It’s crunch time, folks. The small schools (Classes 1A-4A) will be playing for rings this Friday and Saturday in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl–while the large classes (5A-8A) are in their respective final fours to determine our match-ups the following weekend in O-Town. We now give you quick primer for each class to get you pumped for later on this week.
Class 1A – State Championship: Trenton vs. Port St. Joe
It’s a battle between the last two winners of the state championship when the Tigers and the Sharks go at it this Friday evening. Trenton has blown the doors off their competition all season with exception of the “close” 27-18 win they pulled out on Boot Hill last Friday against Madison County. It’s also a rematch from the regular season in which Trenton won easily 48-13 over the defending 1A champs. Port St. Joe was dealing with a spinal meningitis outbreak in the county the previous week and weren’t exactly hitting on all cylinders in week three and now are in full stride–so this one promises to be a clash of the titans.
Class 2A – State Championship: Cambridge Christian vs. University Christian
The Lancers are in the postseason for the first time and have made it all the way to the finals in doing so. The Fightin’ Christians make their way down from Duval County as one of three teams playing for a title this weekend–joining Trinity Christian and Raines in 3A and 4A respectively. UC gave Trinity their toughest game according to TCA’s Verlon Dorminey and have allowed 0 yards rushing through the playoffs thus far.
Class 3A – State Championship: Trinity Christian vs. American Heritage-Delray Beach
The Conquerors are doing just that–conquering everything that stands in their way this season with a team that’s simply described as a juggernaut on both sides of the ball. The Stallions survived CCC last weekend down in Delray last week and are making their sixth appearance in the finals since 2007 while Trinity Christian is seeking their third consecutive state title.
Class 4A – State Championship: Booker T. Washington vs. Raines
The Tornadoes are seeking their fourth consecutive state title while Raines seeks to become only the second public school team from Duval County since the playoffs began in 1963 to win a state title. The other team to do it?–you guessed it–the Raines Vikings back in 1997 when they defeated Glades Central. The only other team from the First Coast to win a state championship on the public side is Nease back in 2005. Booker T. is in a “rebuilding” phase this season coming in with five losses, but don’t let that fool you–BTW is playing their best ball of the season with a freshman QB that’s thrown for nearly 2,400 yards and 25 touchdowns on the season.
Class 5A – State Semis: Clay at Wakulla, Bishop Moore at Jesuit
Wakulla is trying to make it back to the finals and would like to exorcise the demons from 2011 that oversaw them in a 38-0 drubbing at the hands of Duke Johnson and Miami Norland 38-0. Clay brings their outstanding RB Bilal Ally into the contest after winning over Nature Coast in a shootout up in Green Cove Springs last week. The Blue Devils were in Orlando in 2013–but lost to AH-Plantation 66-8 in the finals. Jesuit and Bishop Moore are locking horns for the second year in a row and the Tigers are looking to avenge their one-point loss to the Hornets in 2014. Jesuit has not reached the finals since 1992.
Class 6A – Naples at Miami Central, Tate at Armwood
The Golden Eagles will try and navigate a path carefully through Traz Powell when they take on the Rockets. Naples is coming off a blowout of previously undefeated Charlotte 35-0, while Central handled their business up in Daytona Beach last week against Mainland 33-21. Tate were winners against the finalists from 2013 in Niceville and will be making the 900+ mile road trip from the far reaches of the Panhandle to take on an Armwood team that’s hungry to get back to O-Town.
Class 7A – St. Thomas Aquinas at Braden River, Viera at Lake City-Columbia
The Raiders make their way into Manatee County as the prohibitive favorites, but they’ll be running into a Pirates squad that’s playing inspired football for their newly-minted 7A Coach of the Year Curt Bradley and his staff. The Pirates are deeper than they’ve ever reached in the postseason while the Raiders are seeking consecutive titles. The Hawks of Viera knocked-off Lakeland last weekend and in doing so accomplished their first victory over a ranked opponent this season. They’ll face a Tigers squad up in Lake City that’s been to this point in the season several times and will have a decided home field advantage in this one–but the Hawks have an offense that can light up the scoreboards on any defense–check their resume.
Class 8A – West Orange at Kissimmee-Osceola, Flanagan at Columbus
Columbus made it to the finals last season before bowing out to Apopka, but they defeated a stacked Falcons squad 16-12 in the state semis and will try to accomplish the same feat this Friday. The Kowboys were finalists last season as well, but in Class 7A and were held to a historical low-rushing output against Aquinas. The two teams played lone of the most-entertaining games of the entire season–in the preseason this year–but that game ended in a 28-28 tie–so something has to give. The Warriors have never ventured this far into the postseason and are led by Auburn QB-Commit Woody Barrett.