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Class 5A Regional Quarterfinal Preview with Predictions

Cardinal Gibbons looks to do what has been almost the impossible in the Class 5A playoff this season. [PHOTO CREDIT: Cardinal Gibbons Football]

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The regional quarterfinals open up Friday night in Class 5A and there is a good slate of games to keep an eye on as the Drive To December gets going.

All game scheduled for Friday, November 9 with a 7:30 p.m. Eastern kickoff unless noted.

THREE TO WATCH

CLASS 5A-REGION 1: No. 6 Bolles (6-4) at No. 3 West Florida (6-2), 7:30 p.m. CT: This matchup is very interesting as it is one of the longest road trips that will be taken by any team in the opening round of the playoffs. What might be more unusual is to see Bolles coming into a playoff game with a 6-4 record, which is not traditional of one of the best football programs in the state. What might even be crazier is West Florida only played eight games with weather canceling two of those games altogether. For the visiting Bulldogs, keep an eye on Ben Netting at quarterback along with running back Jayden McCloud as well as running back Cooper Sullivan who will try to keep the host Jaguars honest on defense. As speaking on such with the host Jaguars, keep an eye on quarterback Trevor Jordan (100-174 passing, 1,157 yards, 14 TDs, 8 INTs) as he will be the leader of the offense along with running backs E.R. Edmonds (74 carries, 384 yards, 4 TDs) and Jaheim Simmons (87 carries, 386 yards, 2 TDs). This could be a very well balanced matchup despite the distance traveled for Bolles to get to this game.

Prediction: West Florida 24, Bolles 20

CLASS 5A-REGION 2: No. 6 Menendez (8-2) at No. 3 North Marion (8-2): A lot to like about both of these team who are coming in with having played some tough games and feeling like they have the components to make a run here. For the visiting Falcons, you won’t see much of a passing attack, but keep an eye on a rushing attack from Kenny Logan (165 carries, 1,102 yards rushing, 17 TDs) and Tye Edwards (200 carries, 1,709 yards rushing, 24 TDs) to carry the team in this game. For the host Colts, they have several quality playmakers that will have to be contained, but if you look further, North Marion was more consistent about the games they needed to win versus those of Menendez which is going to make this game very interesting for fans to keep an eye on across the state.

Prediction: North Marion 35, Menendez 34

CLASS 5A-REGION 3: No. 6 Immokalee (5-5) at No. 3 Dunbar (6-4): If anyone told us these teams would meet for a rematch in the playoffs in the first round after Dunbar won the regular-season matchup 24-21 in overtime, I might have not agreed with you given the way things were looking at the time for both teams. However, here we are with this matchup and both have turned things around. Now, only one of them will be left standing after Friday night. The visiting Indians come into this matchup being led by standout quarterback R.J. Rosales who has been one of the leaders of the team over the last two seasons. For the host Tigers, they will rely on a two-headed attack in the rushing department with Brandon Benjamin (125 carries, 792 yards, 2 TDs) and Seneca Milledge (74 carries, 678 yards, 10 TDs). Overall this will be one big game to watch as either team could have a potential chance to make a deep run in the regional portion of the playoffs.

Prediction: Dunbar 28, Immokalee 27

THE REST OF THE SLATE

Region 1

No. 8 Suwannee (6-4) at No. 1 Jacksonville Trinity Christian (10-0): Suwannee is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, but they get the unfortunate draw of one of the top teams in the state in host Trinity Christian. This game could be over as fast as it gets started as the talent level is no match here. Prediction: Trinity Christian 45, Suwannee 7

No. 5 Wakulla (8-2) at No. 4 Ribault (5-5): Wakulla is clearly the much better team coming into this game as Ribault has been very inconsistent this season and sputtered down the backstretch of the season. Prediction: Wakulla 35, Ribault 6

No. 7 Ponte Vedra (8-2) at No. 2 Godby (10-0): A rematch of an opening-round matchup from last year, Godby is even stronger of a team than Ponte Vedra saw last year, but the same thing can be said about Ponte Vedra being stronger here as well. But at the end of the day, Godby has a lot more muscle to flex in this one. Prediction: Godby 35, Ponte Vedra 21

Region 2

No. 8 Eastside (7-3) at No. 1 Nature Coast (9-1): Eastside is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, but under much better circumstances this time around and with a decent amount of talent. The same thing can be said about Nature Coast with their talent and while continuing a playoff stream started four years ago. This one could be close. Prediction: Nature Coast 35, Eastside 28

No. 5 Hernando (7-3) at No. 4 Baker County (6-4): This matchup looks closer than some want to give credit to. Both teams are about equally matched, plus Baker County has seemingly sputtered in their last two games of the regular season that were winnable games, giving concern that Baker County might not go as far as they did last year. Prediction: Hernando 30, Baker County 28

No. 7 Crystal River (8-2) at No. 2 Zephyrhills (10-0): A great matchup between two teams that have shown improvement this season. This should be a competitive matchup and whoever has the ball last could win this game. Prediction: Zephyrhills 35, Crystal River 31

Region 3

No. 8 Jefferson (5-5) at No. 1 Hardee (10-0): It is hard to tell what kind of team Jefferson is, but Hardee is a legitimate deep playoff run threat in this region after running the regular season schedule without a loss including win over playoff teams Sebring, Avon Park, and Barron Collier. It might not be close. Prediction: Hardee 35, Jefferson 10

No. 5 Booker (6-4) at No. 4 Lakewood (5-5): Booker comes into this clearly as the better team having played more consistent over the season given their schedule as Lakewood has not played consistently at any level this season. Prediction: Booker 35, Lakewood 17

No. 7 DeSoto County (7-3) at No. 2 Jesuit (9-1): Tough matchup for the visiting Bulldogs. Just in terms of talent, Jesuit is ahead of things here and this will significantly play a roll of the final score in this game. Prediction: Jesuit 35, DeSoto County 20

Region 4

No. 8 Coconut Creek (6-4) at No. 1 Rockledge (9-1): Coconut Creek has faced some tough teams this season but has come out on the wrong side of those contests. Rockledge is going to be the same way for them and it might not be even close. Prediction: Rockledge 35, Coconut Creek 10

No. 5 Plantation American Heritage (8-1) at No. 4 Fort Pierce Westwood (7-3): Tough draw for Westwood here in this game. The visiting Patriots are likely going to be too much for the host Panthers here in this one. Prediction: American Heritage 30, Westwood 14

No. 6 Bishop Moore (6-4) at No. 3 Jones (9-1): A rematch between District 5A-13 foes here and the first meeting was not pretty at all. This could be the same type of result again this time around with the talent gap very noticeable. Prediction: Jones 35, Bishop Moore 14

No. 7 Merritt Island (5-5) at No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons (8-2): This might be almost no contest here in this one as Merritt Island has shown flashes of being a great team some weeks while other weeks come out completely flat. Talent is also going to show a big difference. Prediction: Cardinal Gibbons 38, Merritt Island 7







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