Round 4: Lake Gibson (9-3) @ Tampa Bay Tech (13-0)

The undefeated Titans of Tampa Bay Tech host the Lake Gibson Braves in this colossal Final Four matchup. The Braves will make the short trip to Hillsborough County with a record of 9-3. In the third round, they blew out Melbourne by a score of 48-14. Tampa Bay Tech is a perfect 13-0 following a dominant, 42-6, win over Wharton. 

Tampa Bay Tech

For the Titans, the strength of their defense becomes more and more impressive each week. They have only allowed 150 points in 13 games for an average of 11.5 points per game. In their three playoff games, they have only given up 31 points, with 18 of those being scored by a damn good Palmetto team in the second round.

During Friday’s win over Wharton, Tech added 9 more tackles for loss to their stat sheets. As a team, they now have an astonishing 144 tackles for loss and 40 sacks on the season. The defensive line continued to lead the way. 2023 DL Jahiem Borden added 6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 fumble recovery. 2023 DL Donteye Drew had 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. 2022 DE Keyon Clark had 5 tackles, and 2 tackles for loss. Much of anything that squeaked through the first level was cleaned up by 2023 LB Ed Gwinn who also had 7 total tackles.

Photo: Tampa Bay Tech DE, Keyon Clark

One final interesting note about this defense is that the top four tacklers are only juniors. That bodes well for Coach Roberts and crew going forward. Offensively, last week’s win was a total team effort. Five different players scored the Titans’ six offensive touchdowns. 2023 QB Xavione Washington continued his great year by having his hand in four touchdowns. Washington threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for 2 touchdowns while also accounting for 174 total yards. As a junior, he is now up to 2,505 total yards and 28 touchdowns. 2024 WR Javion Mckay had 50 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. 2022 WR John Ponder had 42 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. 2022 RBs Ronald Sims and James Evans combined for 134 rushing yards and both scored 1 touchdown apiece on the ground. 

Lake Gibson

2022 RB Jaylon Glover is the workhorse for the Braves. 47% of Lake Gibson’s play-calling this season has consisted of feeding the Utah commit the ball. Opponents know this, but they still can’t slow him down. In 11 games, Glover is up to 272 carries for 2,073 yards and 26 touchdowns. Carrying the load hasn’t caused wear and tear either. Glover has proven to be tougher than a two-dollar steak. In last week’s third-round playoff win over Melbourne, he had 25 carries for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns. This was a week after rushing for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns on 31 carries against Edgewater. He is showing no signs of slowing down.

2023 OT Gernorris Wilson (6’5” 300 lbs), 2023 C Chance Lundy (6’2” 310 lbs) and the rest of the Braves’ offensive line have been a huge part of his success. They keep opening holes and he is hitting them harder than ever. This week, however, they will be lining up across from the best defensive line and one of the best defenses they have seen all season. The line has also done a great job of protecting 2022 QB Logan Hackett. Against Melbourne, Hackett was an efficient 9 of 13 for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 38 yards and 1 touchdown on 5 carries. He has now accounted for 1,679 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season.

Photo: Lake Gibson QB, Logan Hackett

The Tampa Bay Tech defensive line will be pinning their ears back, so it will be vital for him to maintain composure and make good decisions with the football. The Titans have intercepted 14 errant pass attempts this season. The Braves’ defense has held their three playoff opponents to an average of 16 points per game. Lake Gibson’s defensive statistics from the Melbourne game have not been added to MaxPreps yet. 2022 S Landon Brown, 2022 LB William Fenley, and 2022 DB Dion Villiers have all been playing well all season and are currently the top three tacklers. 2024 LB Wade Tyer is an underclassman who is continuing to step up and have an impact as well.

The Braves will have to contain Tampa Bay Tech quarterback Xavione Washington in order to limit his ability to make things happen on the fly. In the second round, Palmetto did an excellent job of shutting down the Titans’ run game. Unfortunately for them, Washington took over and won the game with his arm, throwing for just under 200 yards and 3 touchdowns in the eight-point win.