IT’S TIME! The 2015 edition of the FHSAA Playoffs has arrived and we’ve got seven of our favorite games from the small classifications to roll out for your enjoyment. Four of the games are featuring teams from our coverage area, plyus we give you three good–no GREAT games from the statewide perspective. ENJOY!
Class 1A: Fort Meade Miners (9-1) at Trenton Tigers (10-0)
The Miners were #1 in the AP Poll for nearly the entire season until the tires got stuck in the Muck at Pahokee two weeks ago. They’ll now have to face the current #1 and 2013 State Champions from Trenton. The results for both teams (minus Fort Meade’s loss to Pahokee of course) haven’t been very close at all and the Tigers still have the services of Hamp Cheevers at RB while the Miners have RB Tyler King at their disposal. This game could be a beat writers dream since the clock will be running for long periods of time as the two trade heavyweight punches. Cliche ALERT: Whoever scores first–and has the ball last–will be your winners–just don’t ask us who that will be just yet.
Class 3A: Lakeland Christian Vikings (9-1) at Trinity Catholic Celtics (3-7)
The Celtics have yet to lose a district game in the regular season in 29 attempts–but this isn’t the TC of old–nor is it the regular season any more. They’ve struggled against teams that have athletes that can line them up in space and keep the ball for long periods of the game forcing their defense to spend the majority of the time on the field. The Vikings–even though they’ve got the better resume–won’t be taking Trinity Catholic lightly whatsoever in an effort to do their part towards setting up a rematch with Tampa Catholic in the second round.
Class 2A: Northside Christian Mustangs (9-1) at Cambridge Christian Lancers (9-0)
#1 hosts #4 in a huge 2A first round match-up. The Lancers finished undefeated for the first time in school history on top of winning their first district championship as well while Northside is experiencing much of the same firsts. The Mustangs took it on the chin against Admiral Farragut on television their last time we saw them, but they still showed why they’ve been hanging out in the AP Poll for much of the season. The case can be made for both teams that with even the slightest bit of depth beyond their super-talented starters would make them look like they belong in Class 4A or 5A. Cambridge’s Offense has yet to be stopped in-full and Northside’s in possession of the sourest of tastes in their mouths. This one has the makings of an instant classic.
Class 2A: Victory Christian Storm (5-5) at Deltona-Trinity Christian Eagles (6-4)
The Storm start their quest for back-to-back state titles–albeit with a much different look than last year–but that WHY they play the games, right? The Eagles QB Amorie Archibald has thrown for 1,100+ yards with a 58-percent completion rate. He’s also thrown 16 touchdowns against zero interceptions. They’re coming off a quality win against local rivals Pine Ridge from Class 5A. Victory’s got their own signal-caller that’s thrown for 1,500+ yards and is hitting his stride.
Class 1A: Union County Tigers (9-1) at Madison County Cowboys (7-3)
The Tigers come prowling around Boot Hill up in the Big Bend of Florida in a classic old-school match-up of 1A teams. Union County’s best-known for looking just like LSU with their uniforms and being the home of CJ Spiller–and perhaps are inquiring as we speak as to his eligibility status just in case they get into a tough spot. The Cowboys are enjoying their first season in 1A and that home atmosphere of theirs is second-to-none in that part of the state along with a resume that’s seen them finish the last seven games of the season with an average margin of victory of 40-3 after losing their first three games by a combined score of 84-14–of course that competition was a Tallahassee-Rickards squad that’s loaded and headed to the playoffs along with Wakulla and Brooks County out of Georgia. Union County’s only loss came to Fort White 44-41 for the district championship.
Class 3A: American Heritage-Delray Stallions (7-2) at Westminster Christian Warriors (8-1)
The Stallions pace themselves into Dade County to take on the fightin’ Danny Kanell’s aka the fightin’ Alex Rodriguez’ to face a game Warriors squad whose only loss is to a 6A playoff team in Sebring. This game could come down to AH-Delray’s stud RB Devin Singletary versus Westminster’s QB Bryce Holliday. The Warriors can light up the scoreboard–having done so to the tune of 98-6 their final two games of the season, but they’ve not been in a close game since October 9th against Chaminade-Madonna and have not played in two weeks. AH-Delray’s resume is much better than WC’s–even with two losses coming to Bergen Catholic out of New Jersey and to district champions Oxbridge from West Palm Beach, so this one’s a doozy-in-the-making.
Class 4A: Bolles Bulldogs (8-2) at Walton Braves (10-0)
Bolles’ only losses are to #1-ranked Raines in their district and to 6A Lake City-Columbia. They’re both averaging 40 points per game and their total points are at 408-406 for the season. The total number of points they’ve given up is even at just a ten point differential. Needless to say–these teams are about as even (on-paper) as you can get. Before last week’s action, Walton was the #4 team in 4A and Bolles was the #5-ranked team in the AP Poll. The key elements in this one are A) the schedule pedigree–and B) the home atmosphere for Walton. The Bulldogs won’t be intimated by a bus trip to DeFuniak Springs–heck, they won’t be intimidated at all since they’ve played a big-boy schedule this season out of district.