Class 3A has narrowed itself down to the best of the best, but who is hungriest the most to play in the state semifinals next week. Take a look here for who we think will make it to Thanksgiving weekend.
Region I Final
Trinity Christian (8-2) at Trinity Catholic (9-1)
Last Week’s Results: Trinity Catholic def. Providence 49-14, Trinity def. Maclay 44-13
The Skinny: Teams focus all their attention in trying to stop 5 star players Jeffrey Holland and Kevin Toliver, but tend to forget about their other playmakers like quarterback Billy Cobb (1330 yards, 20 TDs), tailback Rasheed Martin (671 yards, 7 TDs), tailback Michael Clark (478 yards, 8 TDs), wide receiver Chris Barr (554 yards, 6 TDs) and tailback Jalin Buie. Other plays like safety Ben Edwards, defensive back Deontai Williams, linebacker Andre Smith and lineman Kendrick Norton could play huge factors on defense. The Celtics offense, which averages almost 500 yards of offense, features quarterback Noah Schaffer (1388 yards, 16 TDs, 2 INTs), tailback Quandre Woods (925 yards, 11 TDs), tailback London Gaskin (726 yards, 7 TDs, 401 receiving, 9 TDs) and Robert Rivers Jr. (525 yards, 3 TDs). Turnovers could play a big part in this game and the Celtics have only turned the ball over 6 times this season (4 fumbles, 2 INTs). The two have two common opponents in Providence and Maclay, both swept them with the Conquerors beating Providence 42-0 and Maclay 44-13 and the Celtics beating Providence 49-14 and Maclay 55-16. Playing in Ocala won’t be easy for Trinity, as the Celtics are 14-3 at home in the playoffs. However, both have been battle tested throughout the season as 7 of the 9 teams the Conquerors faced made the playoff, the other two were Episcopal (8-2) and IMG (10-1) and ineligible for the playoffs; while the Celtics faced four playoff teams including 2013 3A state runner-up Clearwater Central Catholic.
Looking Ahead: Winner host First Academy/Lakeland Christian winner in state semifinal
Prediction: Trinity Christian
Region II Final
The First Academy (10-1) at Lakeland Christian (10-1)
Last Week’s Results: Lakeland Christian def. Melbourne Central Catholic 32-26, First Academy def. Berkeley 42-35
The Skinny: Ten times First Academy has scored 35 points or more and won ten times, the lone time they didn’t score at least 35 they lost 35-21 to Bishop Moore in the season opener. First Academy runs the wing-t and run it to near perfection outscoring its opponents 508-286 so far behind quarterback Hayden Rymer (797 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs), tailback Garrett Williams (1138 yards, 21 TDs), tailback Mason Plante (921 yards, 14 TDs) and tailback Kenneth Williams (895 yards, 11 TDs). Lakeland Christian, coached by former Florida great Wayne Peace, is loaded on both sides of the ball led by utility player Christian Alexander (2424 yards, 31 TDs). Alexander threw for 227 yards and 3 TDs in last week’s first ever playoff win for the Vikings. RB Marlow (959 yards, 14 TDs) and Larenz Deshazor (839 yards, 10 TDs) will be also be counted on for the Vikings, who have won seven in a row.
Looking Ahead: Winner will travel to Trinity Christian/Trinity Catholic winner in state semifinal
Prediction: Lakeland Christian
Region III Final
Clearwater Central Catholic (10-1) at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney (8-3)
Last Week’s Results: Mooney def. Calvary 17-14, CCC def. Bishop Verot 62-18
The Skinny: Cardinal Mooney is in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and 2-1 all-time against CCC in the playoffs including a 19-10 win in 2006. The Cougars are led by senior quarterback Reese Vita (1205 yards, 14 TDs), wide receiver Sean Morris Jr. (472 yards, 5 TDs) and linebacker Samuel Leonard (110 tackles, 6 sacks). Stopping the defending state runner ups Marauders high scoring offense won’t be an easy task, the Marauders have scored at least 40 points in eight of their last nine games, including a season high 62 last week. Quarterback Jeff Smith Jr., a Boston College commit, has thrown for 2084 yards and 15 touchdowns while also running for 1107 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. He isn’t the only weapon as tailback Camron Cotman (727 yards, 17 TDs, 543 receiving yards, 5 TDs ), tailback Scott Depergola (566 yards, 6 TDs) wide receiver John Brunner (720 yards, 5 TDs) also are huge contributors on offense.
Looking Ahead: Mooney/CCC winner would host Westminster/Am. Heritage winner in state semifinal
Prediction: Clearwater Central Catholic
Region IV Final
Delray American Heritage (9-1) at Miami Westminster Christian (10-1)
Last Week’s Results: Westminster def. Cardinal Newman 41-10, Am. Heritage def. Chaminade 58-21
The Skinny: Westminster offense has scored 35 points in 8 of their 11 games thanks to quarterback Christian Matos (1097 yards, 9 TDs), tailback Jordon Cronkrite (1405 yards, 14 TDs) and tailback Daren Jones (655 yards, 5 TDs). Four receivers Tim Irvin, Elbre Gaiter, Akil Oliver and Tobias Moss all have over 200 yards and two touchdowns each in a balanced Warriors offense. Often forgotten, the Stallions who scored 40 or more points in 7 of their 10 games got everyone’s attention with a win over nationally ranked and arch rival Plantation American Heritage. American Heritage missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years last season and on a mission to make it to state and attempt to win the schools fourth state title. The Stallions are led by linebacker Rondarian Bell, quarterback Warren Robinson, cornerback Desmond Cain, linebacker Josh Ward, tailback Devin Singletary, tailback DJ Davis, linebacker Elijah Howard and lineman Tito Hamilton.
Looking Ahead: Winner travels to CCC/Mooney winner in state semifinal
Prediction: American Heritage