Tri-County Football Preview for 11/6/2020

The Villages (5-0) vs River Ridge (5-3)

The Buffalo are coming off of a 40-26 win over Wildwood in which Junior QB Ronnie Gilchrist Jr. had a great night. Gilchrist completed 13 out of 20 passing attempts for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. He added 86 yards rushing on 8 carries. The Buffalo had four other players get at least 8 carries as they rushed for 280 yards as a team on the night. Senior WR Brenden Shipp was the beneficiary of Gilchrist’s best passing night of the season as he caught 6 pass for 122 yards and 3 touchdowns. Junior RB/LB Ed Williams had a great night on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he led the way with 9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. This was a nice complement to his 11 carries which netted him 68 yards and 2 touchdowns. This week’s opponent, River Ridge, is coming off of a 35-0 win over Anclote. The Royal Knights are a very well-coached and competitive team year in and year out. They have been through a bit of an up and down season so far. The week before the Anclote win, they played a good Zephyrhills team very close. They have a very balanced offense with 902 yards passing and 940 yards rushing on record so far this season. Junior QB Trenton Hawks is their top passer with 74 completions for 760 yards and 7 touchdowns. Notably, he has also thrown 8 interceptions. On his receiving end, Seniors Aaron Wyman and Connor Finer have combined for 540 yards and 5 touchdowns. Finer is also their leading tackler with 37 tackles. Senior RB Nick Marzicola is leading the way in the ground game with 436 yards and 3 TDs on 83 carries. These are two very physical football teams. With that in mind, I see The Villages trying to put this one away early so they can get their studs to the sideline in order to stay healthy for the post-season. River Ridge is facing the same dilemma. The blind draw wasn’t kind to either team. A week from today, The Villages host Bolles and River Ridge hosts Jesuit.

South Sumter (2-4) vs P.K. Yonge (3-6)

The Raiders are coming off of a 31-20 win over a good Bradford team. Senior RB Malachi Presley led the way offensively in the win with 100 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries. Senior LB Trevor Moffitt headlined the defensive effort with 9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. P.K. Yonge lost to Dixie County last week, 43-13. For what it is worth, the one common opponent shared by The Raiders and Blue Wave is Bradford. Bradford outscored P.K. Yonge 28-6 on October 16th. The Blue Wave have some good-looking athletes. South Sumter will have to key in on junior QB Aaron Small Jr., senior RB/LB Taylor Kendrick and senior ATH Yarnell McCray on both sides of the ball. I foresee the Raider defense having a big night and the Raider offense wearing down P.K. Yonge’s defense with their physical run game. I think South Sumter will end the regular season with two wins in a row to give them momentum for next week’s trip to Palatka.

Nature Coast (6-0) @ Weeki Wachee (3-3)

Nature Coast ends the regular season with a short road trip to Weeki Wachee. The Sharks beat Crystal River on the road last week 28-21. Junior QB Ethan Fahey continued his efficiency as he completed 10 out of 15 passes for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Star senior ATH Dedric Hall rushed for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries and caught 7 passes for 134 yards and 1 touchdown. Defensively, senior LB Kyle McIntosh totaled 17 tackles (9 solo) and 1 tackle for loss. Weeki Wachee bounced back from a couple of close losses to GC8 opponents with a 34-12 win over Tampa Bay Christian. If David Richards and the Hornet offense can establish the run game and eat up some clock, they might be able to hang around with the Sharks like Crystal River did. Meanwhile, the undefeated Sharks will be looking to clean up the very issues that allowed the Pirates to keep the game close last week. They have plenty of areas to polish in advance of the tall task of hosting Bishop Moore a week from tonight.

Hernando (4-1) @ Lecanto (4-1)

In the runner-up game for the Gulf Coast 8 Conference, Lecanto hosts Hernando in what has the potential to be a great football game. Both teams are coming off of big wins over county rivals. Last Friday, Lecanto edged Citrus 28-21 while Hernando shut out Springstead 20-0. Outside of a 34-28 loss to Nature Coast, the Leopard defense has been incredibly stingy. Coach Garcia’s defense has posted 3 shutouts and held Citrus to 6 points for a total of 40 points allowed. When a defense only gives up an average of 8 points per game, great things will happen. It has also given them more opportunities to feed Contae Cason and Kev’on Williams. The unsung hero this season has been senior QB Dominic Bowers. First year offensive coordinator Rob Burns has done an excellent job bringing some much needed life to the Hernando passing game. Burns hasn’t asked too much of Dom, but he has put him in the position to be successful while forcing defenses to respect the pass. Though Contae Cason rightfully gets a lot of credit for his splash play ability, the growth and maturation of Dominic Bowers has been vital to Hernando’s offensive success this season. For Lecanto, senior RB Zaire Wilcox had a terrific game in the win against Citrus. He carried the ball 17 times for 185 yards and 4 touchdowns. Defensively, senior LB Jose Rodriguez and sophomore LB Dwann McCray were outstanding. Both young men came away with 17 total tackles. At 6’1” 185 pounds, McCray is a very solid looking sophomore. Make note of his name. I will mention Lecanto’s first half against Nature Coast again. If they can play like that for an entire game, they can play with anyone in the area. They will need to do just that against the Leopards tonight. This should be a great game!

Crystal River (2-3) @ Citrus (1-5)

Crystal River played their best game of the season in their 7 point loss to Nature Coast last week. They have shown major improvement throughout this season. They have grown by leaps and bounds since a season opening shutout loss to Hernando. Several players have stepped up in the process. One of those players is just a freshman. Joel “JoJo” Velazquez had 21 carries for 153 yards and 1 touchdown while completing 3 out of 5 passes for 33 yards and 1 TD against the Sharks. He now has 513 yards and 4 touchdowns on 91 carries this season. His future is very bright and I am sure Coach Lohrey has big plans for him. Senior DE/WR Daunte Gunter has been a force on defense all season but flashed at WR last week with 6 receptions for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior LB Jarred Newell also had a huge night with 19 tackles (11 solo). For Citrus, the workload has fallen onto the shoulders of sophomore QB Cason Williamson. In last week’s 21-28 loss to Lecanto, Cason carried the ball 34 times for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also put the ball in the air 19 times, completing 8 attempts for 98 yards and 1 touchdown. This is always a huge game no matter what the records are. These teams will give each other their best shot tonight.

Wildwood (7-1) – Bye

Springstead (1-3) vs Central (0-4) – Cancelled