The Round Three Playoff Potluck

Studies have shown that the average 2016 Thanksgiving meal is 4,500 calories. You must be stuffed. Maybe you did some Black Friday shopping to burn off some of your turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. BCP is back to fill you up again with our third playoff potluck. We’re going to offer some dishes from around the state in preparation for tonight’s eight round three games. So get ready for another culinary journey – this time from around the state of Florida.

Four Teams to Get Acquainted With:

Class 2A – University Christian (8-2):

The Christians overwhelmed Cambridge Christian in last year’s state title game, and they’re guaranteed to see someone different in the title game if they get in again. Victory Christian wants to make sure that doesn’t happen. University Christian is very run heavy team, but they do have a guy that can throw the football in Clayton Boyd. Otis Anderson will be one for the Storm to watch in the rushing game – he’s the Christians’ leading rusher. Their road to the playoffs included defeating Florida A&M and North Florida Christian in the first two rounds before tonight’s game in Lakeland.

Class 7A – Viera (9-2):

Viera will come to Dad’s Stadium to face a very hot Plant Panther team that defeated Lakeland in the final seconds of the game. Viera defeated Lakeland in last year’s playoffs, going all the way to the 7A Title Game before being knocked out by St. Thomas Aquinas. The Hawks have a very good passer in Tim Demorat, who’s thrown for 2,321 yards and 22 touchdowns on the season. They have a balanced rushing attack – four players have over 200-yards rushing, and nobody has over 400 on the year. However, there is one thing that the Plant offensive line will have to worry about. DE Miguel Rodriguez currently has 26 sacks on the season, and he’s looking to take down Dane Frantzen a couple times tonight.  The Hawks have two more guys in double-digit sacks and they have 75 as a team. If Frantzen gets in trouble, he better not throw it to the defensive backs, because they’ve collected 25 bad passes as a team. FS Colton Farrington leads the team with five.

Class 5A – Clay (9-3):

The Blue Devils have defeated their previous opponents in the first two rounds by putting 41 and 42 points on them in consecutive weeks. Last season, they defeated Nature Coast Tech in the regional final, but lost in the state semifinal. RB Colin Wilson has 1,135 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns on the season, which leads a rush heavy offense (71 percent rush/29 percent pass). Ajay Belanger does lead their receiving game with nine touchdowns from Clay quarterbacks. River Ridge (averaging 14 points allowed per game) will attempt to stop their high-scoring offense and make school history in reaching their first state semifinal.

Class 6A – Vanguard (10-1):

This is a team that several Pasco and Hernando County schools are familiar with – the Knights played Sunlake in the first round of last year’s playoffs, and they’ve played Springstead and Mitchell in this year’s playoffs. They’ve defeated both by an average of 34 points. Vanguard didn’t allow Mitchell to score in the second half of last week’s game, so they are rolling. However, there is a Polk County school that has defeated them once, and they’re looking to do it again. The Braves defeated Vanguard in the final week of the regular season 35-14. That’s the only blemish on Vanguard’s schedule.

Three Teams Going a Long Way:

Northside Christian (10-2):

The ‘Stang Gang may not be able to follow Northside all the way down to Champagnat Catholic in Hialeah. The Mustangs are traveling almost 4 hours (without traffic) and 265 miles to the Miami area to play their Class 2A state semifinal game. NSC knocked off Cambridge Christian last week through a barrage of rushing and passing (203 yards:202 yards respectively), and it’s likely they’ll do the same against the Lions. The winner of this game will travel to Orlando to face the winner of Victory Christian and University Christian.

Berkeley Prep (9-2):

Three hours and nearly 200 miles of driving puts Berkeley Prep in Jacksonville for their battle with Trinity Christian Academy. The Bucs’ are one game away from going to their first state title game in school history, but they’ve already won their first regional championship since 2011 – the second under head coach Dom Ciao. RB Gordon Stetson arguably had his best game of the season against Tampa Catholic, rushing for 230 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns. Their defense also had their bets game of the season, shutting the Crusaders down to just six points in route to tonight’s game.

East Lake (9-1):

Bob Hudson’s crew will be traveling about an hour and a half and 84 miles to get down to Venice High tonight in their regional final tangle. They’ve defeated their previous two opponents, Durant and Tampa Bay Tech, by slim margins, and they’ll have to do more against a Venice team that only gives up 11 points a game but averages almost 51. The Indians are 7-0 at home, so East Lake will have to find ways to quiet the crowd. Last time out, Venice won in a shootout with Braden River, 64-42, something that East Lake can not be scared to do. The last time they had a close, high-scoring game? Week one against Palm Harbor University.

Two Players Who Need to Have Big Nights

Malik Davis, 2017 RB, Jesuit:

It’s Davis’ time to shine in these 2016 playoffs, which shining is certainly something he’s already done. Davis had a masterful performance against Jefferson last Friday, compiling 279 yards and four touchdowns against the Dragons. He broke a 91-yard run against Jefferson last week, and it may take something of that stature to defeat Immokalee, who held Dunbar down to 66 rushing yards last Friday in the second round, according to the Naples Daily News. The Florida-commit and Hillsborough County All–Time Leading Rusher will certainly have something to put up against that defensive front.

Dane Frantzen, 2017 QB, Plant:

We said Frantzen had to play out of his mind against Lakeland, and he did with 167 yards passing and 101 rushing with a pair of total touchdowns, but he’s going to have to do it again. Or at least spread the wealth. With Juwan Burgess out with a dislocated shoulder, it’ll be up to Whop Philyor and Christian Watson to get the job down – but it is Plant, so we may see somebody else step up. Viera knocked Lakeland out of the playoffs last year, but Frantzen will try to make sure that they don’t knock out another Tampa Bay Area team in the playoffs again.

One Thing to Note:

After tonight, we could lose all eight of the Tampa Bay Area remaining playoff teams to out-of-area teams. Will that happen? There’s certainly a possibility.

We’ll have coverage tonight on three games in the BCP Area from Jesuit as they take on Immokalee, Plant’s battle with Viera, and River Ridge’s attempt to make history tonight against Clay.