State Semifinal Matchups

Last Week49-7 over West Orange22-13 over Palmetto (Miami)

Outlook: Venice played one other South Florida team this season which resulted in their only loss. That 28-22 setback to Cardinal Gibbons on October 23rd preceded a stretch where Venice has dominated opponents by a score differential of 321 to 42. Columbus’ three losses were to Bartram Trail (12-6), Chaminade-Madonna (33-17), and Miami Palmetto (7-3). I think Venice has a great shot in this game. Columbus has a fast and athletic team, but if Venice can run the ball like they did against West Orange last week, they will have an opportunity to make a statement. 2022 G Dylon Manganelli and the offensive line have been controlling the line of scrimmage all season allowing 2022 RB Damarion Escort to put up great numbers. He ran for 182 yards and 3 touchdowns last week and is averaging 7.2 yards per carry this season.

TeamTreasure CoastApopka
Last Week34-0 over Palm Beach Central28-27 over Seminole in OT

Outlook: Apopka knocked off Seminole in overtime in a central Florida thriller last week. Down 6-0 in the first quarter, 2022 DB Nikai Martinez made a game-changing interception which he returned 89 yards for a touchdown. 2022 QB Andrew McClain had an efficient game against his former team completing 4 passes for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. 2023 RB Zeldrick Roberts earned his highest amount of carries in a game all season as he rushed 14 times for 68 yards and the overtime touchdown that set up the game-winning extra point. Treasure Coast comes into this game averaging 42 points per game while Apopka has only allowed 7.3 points per game all season.

TeamTampa Bay TechLake Gibson
Last Week42-6 over Wharton48-14 over Melbourne

We went in-depth on this match-up on Wednesday. Check out that breakdown here: LG @ TBT

Last Week42-0 over Hillsborough57-14 over Plantation

Jesuit’s dream season continued by earning a home game for the regional final. The Tigers defense has been incredible all season. They have posted 7 shutouts including two in the playoffs. Overall, they only allow an average of 6.5 points per game. Offensively, they play very sound football while averaging 38 points per game. Northwestern comes to town averaging 38.5 points per game, but they allow an average of 21.5 points per game. Jesuit has a ton of difference-makers, but look for the three-headed monster of 2024 QB Luke Knight, 2023 RB Joquez Smith, and 2022 WR Junior Vandeross to continue taking care of business offensively. The defense will find ways to pressure Bulls’ stud 2023 QB Taron Dickens (3,400+ yards and 42 touchdowns) early and often. They had 3 interceptions against Hillsborough last week.

TeamPine ForestJones
Last Week49-14 over Mosley28-26 over Vanguard

Jones hits the road this week for a tough match-up against a Pine Forest team that averages 38.6 points per game while allowing 13.8. The Eagles lost their season-opener to West Florida 21-14 before winning 11 straight games. Jones averages 35.8 points per game while allowing 18. The Tigers’ run-defense will have their work cut out for them tonight as Pine Forest runs the ball 74% of the time. They have three running backs with at least 94 carries, 821 yards, and 12 rushing touchdowns. The Tigers’ defense will need to rise to the challenge and play downhill. Look for senior defenders Stephen Sparrow, Daniel Mosley, and Nigel Williams to be very busy tonight.

TeamMerritt IslandSebring
Last Week21-0 over Satellite13-12 over Clearwater

Sebring is on the road again this week. Merritt Island’s single loss came during a midseason trip to Georgia when they lost to Cairo, 21-3. The Mustangs’ defense has been lights-out this season. They only allow an average of 6.4 points per game. They have had 5 shutouts including two in the playoffs. This means that Sebring will have to find their offense this week. They survived Clearwater by kicking a last-second field goal. They had a total of 204 yards and 1 touchdown in the game. Holding Clearwater’s explosive offense to 12 points was the most impressive aspect of the win. 2022 DT Bailey Riggles had a huge game for the Blue Streaks as he tallied 5 solo tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. 2024 LB Josiah Taylor went off again with 16 tackles. 2023 LB Joshua Carter had 14 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. 2023 DE Tyler Blevins added 10 tackles and 1 interception. 2022 DB Caden Dunlap also had 1 interception to go along with 8 tackles. If the defense plays like that again, and the offense comes alive, Sebring might have an opportunity for another upset.

TeamCardinal GibbonsLakewood
Last Week36-33 over Gulliver Prep21-7 over Clewiston

Lakewood has the daunting task of heading to Fort Lauderdale tonight to face a powerful Cardinal Gibbons team whose two losses have come to American Heritage and St. Thomas Aquinas. In Lakewood’s win against Clewiston, the defense only allowed 168 total yards and 7 points. This allowed 2023 QB Anthony Colandrea to step up and have a big night. He threw for 219 yards and 1 touchdown and ran for 43 yards and 1 touchdown. He will have to get the offense clicking on all cylinders tonight. The defense will have to step up again also. Cardinal Gibbons has a balanced offense operated by 2023 QB Dylan Rizk. He can hurt defenses with his arm and his legs. Lakewood 2023 DL Taveon Wheeler had 10 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks last week against Clewiston. He will be a key player again tonight.

TeamBerkeley PrepLakeland Christian
Last Week36-22 over CCC24-21 over Benjamin

This is our only game featuring two undefeated teams and the second game featuring two area teams. For what it is worth, Berkeley Prep and Lakeland Christian faced one common opponent this season. Berkeley Prep beat Calvary Christian 28-26 on September 3rd. Lakeland Christian beat Calvary Christian 38-13 on October 22nd. Last week, Lakeland Christian completed a fourth-quarter comeback to defeat Benjamin. As usual, the Vikings’ offense did most of their damage on the ground rushing for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns. They have run the ball 76% of time this season. 2022 RB Breylin Smith carried the ball 17 times for 107 yards and had a 73 yard punt return for a touchdown. 2022 WR Blake Tyson received his first carries of the season and rushed 5 times for 64 yards and 1 touchdown.  2022 RB Dre Hudson had 21 yards and 1 touchdown on 5 carries. 2025 LB Trey Berry led the Vikings defense with 10 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. 2023 DB Dre Hughes snagged 2 interceptions while fellow 2023 DB T.C. Bell had 1 interception. Like Lakeland Christian, it is no secret that Berkeley Prep is going to run the football. However, the Bucs are even more unbalanced as they run the ball 83% of the time. In their third-round win over CCC, their star senior running backs stole the show just as they have all season long. 2022 RB Xavier Townsend carried the ball 21 times for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns. 2022 RB Travis Bates added 14 carries for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. 2023 QB Troy Reader completed 3 passes and they were all to 2022 WR C.J. Hawkins. The two connected for 106 yards and 1 touchdown. 2022 LB Tre Reader led the defense with 17 tackles and a fumble recovery. 2022 DB D.J. Hooker had 13 tackles. Monster 2023 DE Keon Keeley had 6 tackles and 3 tackles for loss. Keeley and 2023 DL Brice Stevenson will be key to stopping the Vikings’ run game. 

TeamOrlando Christian PrepTrinity Christian Academy
Last Week48-12 over ZCA39-22 over Munroe

Orlando Christian Prep hosts Trinity Christian Academy tonight. Trinity Christian is 8-4, but do not let that record fool you. The Conquerors played a punishing schedule that featured many larger schools, and all four losses were to playoff teams. Last week, Trinity’s run game was simply too much for Munroe. 2023 RB Treyaun Webb carried the ball 15 times for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was his best game of the season. Orlando Christian Prep should expect a heavy dose of the same style of football. The Warriors did a great job of holding Zephyrhills Christian RB Dontrevius Jackson in check last week. That defensive effort was led by 2024 DE Stanley Ihekwoaba who had 6 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. 2022 LB Grant Overby added 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack. 2024 DB Gadiahwan Louis had 1 interception and 2023 ATH Jayden Alberty had 1 interception. Alberty also had 2 touchdown receptions in the win. Two backs had over 100 yards each on the ground. 2022 RB Curtis Kimmons ran the ball 12 times for 110 yards and 1 touchdown. 2023 RB Brian Thomas added 102 yards and 1 touchdown on 18 carries. 2024 ATH Demarion Jenkins had 49 yards and 2 touchdowns. As you can see, OCP has playmakers all over the field. 2023 QB Vilay Nakkoun Jr. is the one who ties it all together. He does a great job of managing football games. He was 6 for 7 for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns last week. At the end of the day, Trinity Christian is fine-tuned and battle-tested from playing some elite competition. Orlando Christian Prep is going to have to play their best game of the season.