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November 29, 2012

Road to Orlando - State semi-finals 3A, 4A

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We continue our in-depth coverage of Classes 1-4A by breaking down the Class 3A state semi-finals.

Last week, we finished with a record of 2-2 (Steve went 1-3) giving FlaVarsity a mark of 8-4 in 3A for the post-season.

The usual suspect Madison County has once again surfaced to the state semi-finals after a game-winning field goal boasted the Cowboys to a home game against First Academy of Orlando, who has quietly put together an impressive resume at 12-0.

In the other bracket we see University traveling to Clearwater Central Catholic.

University came out victorious in a game that everyone had circled last week, soundly defeating previous state champ American Heritage, 34-17.

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First Academy (12-0) at Madison County (11-1)

The Skinny: Madison County is just one game away from reaching the state-finals for a second consecutive year and are at home this Friday. Of course most people aren't shocked to see the Cowboys back to this point but some may be surprised to see First Academy make it here despite a 12-0 record. The Royals have already surpassed what any other football team has done in the program's history by making it to this game, but they may not be finished. The Royals have done most of their damage on the ground averaging 279.1d yards a game but it's been the defense that has been the backbone for the team forcing turnovers and holding opponents to single digits seven times this season. It won't be easy given Madison County's playoff experience and being at home but this could be a game that First Academy could snatch away if they can force turnovers and turn those into points.
PLAYERS TO WATCH : FIRST ACADEMY - DB Ben Deluzio, RB Lloyd Hylton- MADISON COUNTY - OL Ira Denson, ATH Shedrick Williams


University School (10-0) at Clearwater Central Catholic (11-1)

The Skinny: University will undoubtedly by the toughest team Clearwater Central Catholic has seen all season. The Suns are the team that many believe is the team to beat in 3A, which is tough to argue coming of a huge win against defending champion American Heritage. The Marauders defense has been terrific in the past five games, allowing only 7 points combined, but will face a University offense unlike any they've seen all season. University runs an extremely balanced offense with quite arguably the best receiving core in the state led by Jordan Cunningham and sophomore Jordan Scarlett. Clearwater Central Catholic's secondary, led by Michael Stevenson will be tested again and again. The biggest question for U-School - can the Suns get back up after an emotional win over American Heritage.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:- UNIVERSITY SCHOOL - WR Jordan Cunningham, DT Maquedius Bain CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC - LB Ethan Thompson, DB Michael Stevenson


* * Discuss your thoughts of the games on our Football Central message forum.

Our crystal ball is in tune with this class, as we went 4-0 in picks last week - to increase our mark to 11-1 in 4A.

The Class 4A semi-finals may offer the most competitive matchups of any classification this week.

Northeast Florida will be in for a special treat as the nation's all-time leading rusher; Derrick Henry goes up against one of the nation's most prestigious programs and defending 4A champ, Bolles. If the Alabama-bound Henry is going to set the national single-season rushing record - it will be against a defense that stops the run very well.

Our other bracket matches Miami Washington, the state runner-up from a year ago traveling to Cocoa. The Tigers were knocked off in this exact same spot last year by guess who? Washington.

While Cocoa is looking for revenge, Bolles is looking to earn the chance to repeat and end what may be the greatest high school career in history. If that isn't enough to entice you I don't know what will.

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Bolles (11-1) at Yulee (10-2) The Skinny: Just hearing the name Bolles, you already know what they're about. Winning is nothing new at Bolles and the Bulldogs find themselves once again bidding for a shot at the state title. The Bulldogs will make a short drive up to Yulee with one thing in mind - stop Derrick Henry. It appears East Gadsden did something right, holding Henry to 189-yards last week and no rushing touchdowns. Bolles has no doubt been watching the film of that game and what better of a coach to have to prepare for the beast that is Henry than Bolles head coach Corky Rogers. Yulee - and Henry - have faced Bolles before. The Hornets were runner-ups to the Bulldogs in 2010 in class 2B - so this won't be the first time around. The Hornets will have to rely not only on Henry, but a tough defense to shut down the Bulldog Wing-T attack - led by Arterrious Mitchell. Bolles has been plagued by injuries all year - but with a win or go home mantra, it's all or nothing for both teams.
PLAYERS TO WATCH - BOLLES: DE William Zirzow, QB Colby Peters: YULEE RB Henry LB Brycen Gagnon:
Prediction: BOLLES

Booker T. Washington (11-1) at Cocoa (10-2)

The Skinny: After stumbling to a 0-2 start, the Tigers came back roaring, winning 10 straight. Cocoa will now get the chance at revenge from last year's semi-final defeat as they host Miami Washington. The Tornadoes have looked nothing less than dominant (albeit against two weaker opponents) in its two opening-round matchups doing it in the air and the ground, but the high-scoring may stop here. Cocoa showed just how good it's defense can be when they're firing at all cylinders the past couple of weeks holding its opponents to under 3-points-a-game the last five games. While Washington while try to play an up-tempo type of game, Cocoa will try to control the game on the ground and keep Washington off the field as much as possible. A game that went into overtime last year may have a similar type of finish Friday. Booker T. plays the run well, but struggled in the loss to Central. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Robert picks COCOA - Steve picks BOOKER T.)
PLAYERS TO WATCH: - BOOKER T. WASHINGTON - LB Matthew Thomas, DB Michael Johnson: COCOA - LB Deondre Barnett, RB Antwan Lee


* * Discuss your thoughts of the games on our Football Central message forum.


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