The Regional Finals Reaction

What a night. Seventeen BCP teams entered the ring, eleven came walked away with another week to play. While six of those eleven had to lose because they were all-BCP matchups, the other five came through in a big way to the tune of 5-0. The possibility of Tampa Bay absolutely owning the first weekend in Tallahassee is growing. Two of the three potential final games in Classes 2A and 3A feature teams that could make them all-local affairs, but it’s going to take more climbing up the mountain to get there. Here are our thoughts on the night that was and a quick look at what it’s going to take to make this dream a reality.

Class 2A: Victory Christian and Seffner Christian both handled their responsibilities with precision. Victory didn’t surrender a point en route to a running clock against Foundation Academy, while Seffner is in their first state semifinal in program history thanks to a boss-like slamming of the door on Admiral Farragut’s attempts to comeback. The Storm will host Jacksonville University Christian next week, while Seffner will hit the road to face Champagnat.

Class 3A: Lakeland Christian and Clearwater Central Catholic are on opposite sides of the bracket, and like 2A, one team will be home while another hits the road down south. The Vikings defeated The First Academy from Orlando while CCC handled their business down in Fort Myers against Bishop Verot. That now makes two #1-seeds the Marauders have ended the seasons of prematurely. LCS is a #1-seed in their own right, and will be tasked with stopping Willie Taggart Jr. and Florida High. The ‘Noles were victorious in a tough one at Pensacola Catholic. CCC faces an old foe in Chaminade-Madonna, who put a running clock on Calvary Christian out of Fort Lauderdale.

Class 4A: Lakewood defeated Tampa Catholic in south St. Pete with a swarming defense and a lightning-quick barrage of points. The Crusaders had over a dozen snaps inside the deep red zone and came away with no points, but still managed to get points on a blocked punt. The Spartans will now host Booker T. Washington who ended Cardinal Gibbons’ season on the road in comeback fashion. The mere thought of the speed, size, and talent witnessed from Lakewood going against the same credentials of Booker T. the day after Thanksgiving means you better get there early. Extra early. That’s a pregame, in-game, and postgame atmosphere that’s can’t-miss. Waiting on the other side of the bracket in 4A North is either Cocoa or Bolles.

Class 5A: Jesuit thoroughly dismantled an undefeated Lake Wales squad for their 11th-straight victory. The Tigers will now try and bottle that energy and execution and hit the road south to Traz Powell Stadium aka “The Mecca” to face the back-to-back 6A Champions now in 5A, Miami Northwestern. The Bulls defeated American Heritage-Plantation on the road. Awaiting these two squads in 5A North is either Wakulla or Jones.

Class 6A: In what could be the third potential all-local state finals matchup finds Palmetto and Gaither. It was Palmetto finally breaking out after two slugfests in the first two rounds against Charlotte, in what was the third district rematch for the Tigers in the postseason. There isn’t another team that can claim that distinction, either. Palmetto now finds themselves four quarters from Daytona, with Miami Central coming to town next Friday. In what should be considered as one of the most-impressive performances throughout the area it was Gaither completely stonewalling one of the state’s most-explosive offenses, and the #1-rusher in the state via yardage. From start to finish this game was a total mismatch and there’s no better feeling right now in Northdale. Now the Cowboys will head to the far edges of Planet Earth in the Central Time Zone to face the Gators of Escambia at Emmitt Smith Stadium. There’s something poetic with that considering those were #22’s only two mascots he played for from HS to the NFL.

Class 7A: Venice got their revenge on Manatee doubling up the ‘Canes after Manatee did the same thing to them week ten of the season. The Indians are one of the hottest teams offensively throughout the state, which has to help mentally as much as anything else going into their contest in Fort Lauderdale at St. Thomas Aquinas. This sets up the FOURTH potential all-local matchup in Daytona after Armwood was “business as usual” against Lakeland. Of course there’s some disappointment from the casuals when they see they can’t have their Lakeland-STA rematch, but the better team most-definitely is moving on at this point regardless of the casuals feelings. Edgewater from out of Orlando will be headed to Seffner next week.

Class 8A: What an unbelievable run this has been for the 30 seniors at Steinbrenner. What a Warrior mentality it took to hit the road and take it right down the chute against Kissimmee Osceola. Their last four games have absolutely prepared them for this week’s opponent–Apopka, as well. They’ll be headed east on I-4 again, but they’ll consider it a good thing to make this habitual, because a win means they’re right back on I-4 the following week as well, but this time for a ring. Awaiting the Warriors should they wash away the Blue Darters is either Deerfield Beach or Miami Columbus.