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December 6, 2013
Coaches Corner: 6A playoffs
Willie Spears from Escambia High School is our guest analyst this week for class 6A.
Honored to be guest analyst for 6A Matchup
At the beginning of the season almost every poll had Miami Central ranked number one. They were not only ranked number one in 6A, preseason they were considered to be the best football team in the state in all classifications. The third ranked team in 6A was Armwood, however two previously unranked teams Bartram Trail and Mainland round out our semifinal matchup. Teams like Gainesville, Northwestern, and Columbia were thought to fill the other two spots on the 6A state playoff bracket, but there has proven to be some parity in the states third largest classification. Although Armwood and Central are favored to face off in the state championship game they will have to show up and play well because several upsets have occurred this post season.
BartramTrail - St. Johns (8-5) vs Seffner Armwood (13-0)
As we all know Bartram Trail is the surprise team in this semi final game. Starting off 0-5 and rallying to an eight game win streak in honor of Aubrey Thompson the Bears are having a terrific season. Team leader and quarterback PJ Blazejowski has thrown for over 2,000 yards and has 16 touchdowns. The Bears have talent but they will need to play their best game offensively in order to stop Seffner Armwood.
Over the past two weeks the Bears have defeated Columbia and Choctawhatchee by a told of eight points. Armwood is averaging 41 points a game during the playoffs and Coach Sean Callahan has led his team to a 13-0 record with the leadership of many talented players including offensive line leader Thomas Barley, junior defensive end Byron Cowart and their leader in the secondary, Vanderbilt commit Kyle Gibson.
The key matchup is going to be Bartram Trail's 3-3 stack defense which has lived by a bend but don't break approach throughout the playoffs against Armwood's balanced offensive attack. The spread offense is ran by many different schools in the state of Florida. Some coaches run out of the spread while others throw. The Hawks do both, and they do it very well. They are averaging close to 170 yards on the ground and in the air, for a total of 334 yards per game. On the other hand bears defense has flown around and really ran to the ball the second half of the season, but it will be very difficult to stop the offensive attack of Hawks.
Bears quarterback PJ Blazejowski and wide receivers Romello Bentley and Karl Harris along with sophomore running back David Coleman will all need to have career nights.
Although Bartram Trail has appeared in the playoffs 11 of the past 12 years Armwood has the advantage in experience. Last season they lost in the third round to Gainesville and many of those same players are on this year's team. On the other hand no one thought Bartram Trail would be in this position, but here they are. They may be a team of destiny like the Auburn Tigers.
Daytona Beach Mainland (12-1) vs Miami Central (11-1)
For the 20th year in a row The Daytona Beach Mainland Bucs are in the playoffs. Their road this year leads them to the top ranked team in the state, Miami Central. To get here they defeated Lake Minneola (49-0), Leesburg (21-6) and South Fort Myers (42-7). Their opponent, Central defeated Boynton Beach (55-37) Dillard (59-14) and Heritage (54-3) on their way to this intriguing matchup. Mainland's defense has held opponents to 7 points per game while Central's offense is averaging 41 points per game. Football is all about match ups and this game puts a great defense against a great offense.
The Central Rockets lost their leading rusher and University of Miami commit Joseph Yearby to a fractured fibula last week in their regional final victory over Palm Bay Heritage. Although Yearby was a big part of the Rockets success his backfield teammate Dalvin Cook has vowed to do whatever it takes to win it all for him. The Rockets are ranked third in the country according to USA Today and looks to be on track to finish wire to wire as the number one team in the state of Florida.
Standing in their way is a Mainland Bucs team led by Georgia Tech commit Trevaughn Rodriguez. Rodriquez is a fast and powerful runner with great vision. Mainland has found a way to make big plays all season and will need to continue this trend in order to pull the upset. The Bucs special teams have made play after play with blocked punts and field goals; they have also had several big returns. The kicking unit is very skilled and the Bucs defense is arguably the best in the state.
Mainland's defense has outscored their opponent. That is unheard of; their defense has scored more points than the opposing team's offense. We all know that you win championships with defense, and the Bucs defense has played great each week. Look for a game full of big plays with the team making the most mistakes coming up short.