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November 25, 2012
Three things I learned in last Friday's FHSAA Class 6A regional semifinals:
In the Gainesville area, they refer to it as the "Panhandle curse."
It seemed like more times than one could guess, what was perceived to be a powerhouse local team would make the lengthy bus ride to the northwest part of the state and come home with a loss.
It has happened to just about every one of them, perhaps none more than Lake City Columbia, which earned another trip north with a 34-8 victory against St. Augustine last Friday.
During the early part of the century, the often-loaded Tigers invariably would have to make the trip to Tallahassee Lincoln, and the results those years (2001, '02 and '04) never were positive for the visitors.
CHS will be going even deeper into the panhandle next Friday when it visits Navarre. There, Tiger fans will recognize a familiar face on the opposing sidelines in former Suwannee coach Jay Walls.
Curse aside, how good might this game be? The two teams have combined for two losses by a total of four points.
A 35-18 defeat of Strawberry Crest on Oct. 12 marked the last time the Hawks scored more than 19 points in a game.
The playoffs have seen AHS score 10 and nine points, respectively. However, the Armwood defense has been sturdy, allowing a total of 13 points to Largo and Hillsborough.
Now come a big test in undefeated host Gainesville.
The Hurricanes have scored 34 or more points in nine of 12 contests this season. They also have added motivation after seeing a 14-3 halftime lead evaporate into a 17-14 loss in the same round of the playoffs last season at AHS.
The matchup between Naples and Daytona Beach Mainland could be a scoreboard buster.
In what is one of the football playoff's best stats, NHS has yet to score fewer than (are you ready?) 42 points in a game all season. Yes, all season.
Likewise, the Buccaneers are averaging 41.5 ppg in two postseason road victories.
Should be fun...