Round 2: Big-Time Games on Tap

The schedule for round two is absolutely loaded. These are some of the top games in our coverage area for Friday night.

Edgewater (10-1) vs Lake Gibson (7-3)

Two of the top running backs in the state will face off in this one. Lake Gibson 2022 RB Jaylon Glover is averaging 177 rushing yards per game with a total of 1,589 yards 21 rushing touchdowns. Lake Gibson’s record sits at 7-3. As a team, they have scored 279 points and given up 185 points. The Braves run the ball 61% of the time. Edgewater 2023 RB Cedric Baxter is averaging 158 rushing yards per game. In ten games, he has a total of 1,576 rushing yards and, like Glover, has 21 rushing touchdowns. Edgewater’s record is 10-1 and they have scored 420 points this season giving up 220 points. They run the ball 68% of the time. Both teams are loaded with talent and have battled through tough schedules. 

Lake Gibson entering the game.

Sumner (9-2) vs Hillsborough (9-2) 

For a program in its first varsity season, Sumner has continued to exceed expectations. Last week, they progressed from winning a district championship to winning a playoff game. Tonight, Coach Alonzo Ashwood and his young team have a chance to eliminate one of his long-time mentors, Earl Garcia. Ashwood coached under Garcia for 14 years at Hillsborough. Now the two are facing off in the second round of the playoffs. These teams have identical records this season. Sumner’s two losses were to Durant and Plant. Hillsborough’s two losses were to Tampa Bay Tech and Jesuit, and overall, the Terriers have faced a stronger schedule. When it comes to scoring, these two are neck and neck. Hillsborough is averaging 33 points per game while only allowing 11 points per game. Sumner averages 34 points per game and is allowing just 12 points per game. Hillsborough runs the ball 60% of the time while Sumner runs the ball 62% of the time. A player to watch for Hillsborough is 2022 LB/RB Joseph Sipp Jr. Sipp is an excellent athlete who plays at a high level all game long. He leads the powerful Terrier defense with 100 total tackles. Offensively, he has contributed 502 yards and 9 touchdowns out of the backfield. He is a game-changer and will have a major impact on both sides of the ball tonight. 2024 QB Greg Smith is the key to Sumner’s success. Smith has thrown for 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is also the Stingrays’ leading rushing with 591 yards and 9 touchdowns. He will have to play an efficient and mistake-free game against Hillsborough. 

Tampa Bay Tech (11-0) vs Palmetto (5-5)

At first glance, casual football fans are probably expecting a lopsided win in Tampa Bay Tech’s favor. Don’t let Palmetto’s 5-5 record deceive you though. The Tigers’ five losses have come from teams with a combined record of 44-9. Outside of a 42-10 loss to Venice, they fell by 9 points or less in the other four games. 2022 RB Cleve Benson led the Tigers to a 41-6 win against Wiregrass Ranch in the first round. He carried the football 16 times for 107 yards and 3 touchdowns. Defensively, 2022 CB Sheldrick Simpson snagged 2 interceptions on top of making 2 solo tackles against the Bulls. Upsetting Tampa Bay Tech will be a colossal task. The undefeated Titans have been successful against a tough schedule of their own. They are averaging 34 points per game while only allowing 11 points per game. 2023 QB Xavione Washington lit up Largo last week completing 15 out of 21 passing attempts for 294 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 62 rushing yards. Washington broke 2,000 total yards in that win and now has 2,110 yards and 21 total touchdowns on the season. Defensively, 2023 DTs Jahiem Borden and Donteye Drew created mayhem for Largo’s offense. Borden had 10 total tackles, 6 solo, 5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks against the Packers. Drew had 7 total tackles, 5 solo, 5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. The Titans’ defense has been exceptional all season, especially the defensive line. Keyon Clark’s (27 TFL this season) unit simply overwhelms opponents at the line of scrimmage. The Palmetto offensive line will have to play their best game of the season against them.

Auburndale (9-0) vs Jones (9-2)

Auburndale rolled over Belleview 41-7 in the first round while Jones battled Mainland for a 35-28 win. Neither team has posted complete statistics from their win. Auburndale’s defensive stats do show that they were led by 2022 LB Evan Ellison with 10 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. 2023 OLB Jeffery Anglin chipped in 5 tackles including 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. The Bloodhounds’ offense is led by 2022 QB Zach Tanner. Tanner has been very efficient this season. In eight games, he has completed 65% of his passes for 1,643 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has also averaged 8 yards per carry while rushing for 355 yards and another 2 touchdowns. Overall, Auburndale averages 33 points per game while giving up 14 points per game. Jones is definitely the more battle-tested team between the two. The Tigers average 36 points per game while allowing 18 points per game. Their two losses were to a couple of powerhouses in IMG Academy’s national team and Edgewater. Their key to success is no secret. 2022 QB Julian Calvez is having a special year. In the regular season, he completed 62% of his passes for 2,337 yards and 22 touchdowns. He ran for an additional 342 yards and 4 touchdowns and caught 1 pass for a touchdown also. In total, Calvez has accounted for 2,696 total yards and 27 touchdowns. He is a very well-rounded QB who does an outstanding job leading his team. The Jones defense is led by 2022 LB Nigel Williams. He finished the regular season with 56 total tackles, 32 solo tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Auburndale’s undefeated record will be put to the test tonight, and their post-season life will be at stake.

Jones Kaylan Julian calvez on the move.

Jesuit (11-0) vs Braden River (9-1)

We featured senior linebacker AJ Cottrill yesterday for a reason. The Tigers shut out Boca Ciega by a score of 50-0 last week, and Jesuit has not given up a single point since October 8th. They have outscored opponents 216-0 over the last five games. Against Boca Ciega, 2024 QB Luke Knight stole the show. The sophomore completed 10 out of his 11 passing attempts for 184 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Pirates. Knight manages the game so well for a sophomore. His intelligence and coachability shine through on film. He displays great poise while making smart, accurate throws. He has a very bright future to look forward to. His focus tonight, however, will be on Braden River. The Pirates’ one loss came to Sumner on October 22nd. While clinching the district championship that night, Sumner held Braden River to 154 total yards while piling up 397 of their own. In the first round, Braden River eliminated Countryside by a score of 30-16. 2022 ATH Nehemiah Jenkins carried the ball 27 times for 162 yards and 1 touchdown while leading the Pirates to victory. On defense, 2023 LB Aidan Dangler led with 12 total tackles, 7 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 interception. Braden River is a run-heavy team that will play to Jesuit’s strength. The Pirates run the ball 76% of the time. If Jesuit stuffs the run early and forces Braden River to start throwing, it could cause some serious problems for the Pirates. Against Countryside, 2022 QB Bryan Kearse only attempted 4 passes with 2 being completed for 32 yards and 1 touchdown. Overall, Kearse has 580 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 66 attempts through the air this season. 2024 QB Nick Trier has also seen some action this season. The Pirates simply have not seen a defensive front as powerful as Jesuit’s before. With that said, the key tonight will be whether or not their quarterbacks can be successful if forced to throw 20+ times. Jesuit will undoubtedly get them out of their comfort zone. Will they crack under pressure?