CLASS 8A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Columbus Explorers vs. Apopka Blue Darters
WHEN: Friday, December 12
WHERE: Daytona Stadium, Daytona Beach
KICKOFF: 7:00 p.m. ET
TICKETS: $12 – advance purchase (Ticketmaster); $15 – at the gate
PARKING: $10 per game (Columbus fans will park in the North parking lot [visitors], Apopka fans will park in the South parking lot [home]).
WEB STREAM: Spectrum Cable ($9.99 fee; free for Spectrum Customers)
RELATED: 2019 Class 8A Playoff Bracket
RECORDS: Columbus – 10-4; Apopka – 12-1
RANKINGS: Columbus – Not ranked; Apopka – No. 22 overall in Florida, No. 5 in Class 8A by FloridaHSFootball.com
COACHES: Columbus – Dave Dunn, 1st year (second stint); Apopka – Jeff Rolson, 1st year
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Columbus – defeated Coral Gables 50-14 in the regional quarterfinals; defeated Miami High 35-2 in the regional semifinals; defeated Western 36-21 in the regional finals; defeated Deerfield Beach 28-21 in the state semifinals; Apopka – defeated Flagler Palm Coast 44-25 in the regional quarterfinals; defeated Bartram Trail 34-13 in the regional semifinals; defeated Seminole (Sanford) 20-0 in the regional finals; defeated Steinbrenner 41-15 in the state semifinals
SKINNY: Believe it or not this is not the first meeting of the two programs in the Class 8A State Championship game as both teams meet in 2014 which Apopka won over Columbus by the score of 30-23 in Orlando. Apopka is seeking their fourth overall state championship victory in school history and this appearance is their first in the state championship game since 2014. For Columbus, they are still seeking their first state championship victory in school history after coming up short last season against Mandarin. This the Explorers fifth overall appearance in a state championship contest. The main guy for Columbus you want to watch for is Henry Parrish Jr. because he is the guy that is going to cause trouble for Apopka as he has been known to break off huge touchdown runs when no one expect him to. He has already rushed over 2,200 yards this season and 28 touchdowns and could eclipse the 30-touchdown mark in the state championship game, if he is not contained by Apopka’s stout defense. For Apopka, : Jaquan Lowman is the big name to watch as he is the leading offensive player with over 1,500 yards rushing this season and over 20 touchdowns to his name while defensive tackle Jalen Carter has been one of the big leaders on defensive with sacks totaling in double digits while Josiah Robinson leads the team in tackles that is well over 100 tackles.
RELATED: Statewide ‘LIVE’ Scoreboard
OUTLOOK: Both teams look like they can be evenly matched in this game and with the running game that should be the case. The question is has Apopka faced a tougher running back in the state than Parrish this season? The only one that comes close to answering that is Avarius Sparrow from Jones, but not inside the top three running backs being heavily recruited in the 2020 class. The offensive line for Columbus has been a big reason why the Explorers have been able to give Parrish so many opportunities this season, especially in the playoffs when they needed it the most. With that all in mind it doesn’t write off that Apopka has played tremendously well in the playoffs. Just in the end we could see a huge game between both teams and a very close one with that as well.
PREDICTION: Columbus 28, Apopka 24