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December 4, 2013

Coaches Corner: 5A Preview

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Bobby Ramsay from Yulee High School is our guest analyst this week for class 5A.

Class 5A has shown to be a wide open classification, where improving and continuing to coach up your players could get you deep in the playoffs. That's what Clay, Lakewood, and Lake Wales have done. They played quality schedules, continued to improve, and are playing great football at the most critical time of the season. Plantation American Heritage has been stellar and steady all season, their only loss coming against Miami Central. They have some very impressive wins over teams like Bolles, Mainland, and Immokalee. All of these teams have shown to be balanced on both sides of the ball, and are capable of winning shootouts, or defensive struggles.

Clay vs. Lakewood

Clay head football coach Josh Hoesktra and his staff have really done an outstanding job with that program, and this year they have taken Clay to a new level.

A spread Gus Malzahn style run attack that uses many formations fits perfectly to their type of players. They average over 300 yards a game rushing, and have 5 backs with over 400 yards, including Shannon Asbell who is the leading rusher. QB Wes Weeks is also a dual threat and a talented athlete. They have a big physical offensive line led by right guard Brett Edenfield. This is an offense that amassed 74 points in regulation, so the potential for big plays is there if you don't fit the run well.

In contrast to the 74 point game, Clay also advanced 9-7, so they can win tight defensive games, and in week one of the playoffs shut down a potent Ribault offense led by D.J. GIllins. They are a 4-3 cover 4 style defense who are fast and aggressive in their base techniques. Against RIbault in particular, they did a great job of defending vertically and used their front 4 to create pressure and plays. They are very sound alignment wise and make you earn yardage.

Coach Corey Moore and Lakewood are riding a hot streak similar to Clay. Their offense is more dual threat offense, and they run a spread offense with a mix of under center that utilizes the speed of their skill players and quarterback.

Lakewood appears to use a lot of formations, similar to Clay. This stresses a defensive staff as they must take the time to line up their team in practice against multiple looks. They look to create space in the open field and allow their skill guys to be playmakers.

Ryan Davis and Jocqui Ellison are the ideal duel threat QB, possessing the arm and the foot speed to create problems for a defense. Both can line up under center and both have blazing speed.

A big offensive line complements the pass, led by Rivals250 (and Georgia commit) Isaiah Wynn. On the outside they have height outside and quickness in the slot. Andrew Davis is a tall fast WR who can create 1 on 1 matchup issues for a defense.

On defense Lakewood will run a 4 man front and have tons of speed, at linebacker in particular. They look to create havoc with pressure from their 2 inside LB's, they had success vs. South Sumter this way. DL Jordan Edwards stands out quick on film, as does LB Oshario Mitchell. If there is a defensive contrast it would be that Lakewood appears to blitz a little more and will play 0 coverage on the back end times. One intangible Lakewood has is a good kick return game, I have seen 2 touchdown returns on film

American Heritage vs. Lake Wales

Coach Mike Rumph and American Heritage have been the best team in 5A this season, and they are well known for their standout running back Sony Michel. While he is clearly what the team is built around on offense, it wouldn't be smart to ignore some other really good players. WR Isaiah McKenzie's KOR for a td against Miami Central is as good a highlight as you will see.

Torrance Gibson is also a serious athlete and threat to run and pass. There is a nice complement of weapons around Michel, which makes it hard for a defense to key on him too much, as other players on the team can beat you. They can move from wing sets, to pro, to spread, so again it's a lot to handle.

But make no mistake, Michel is a standout back who can play physical, makes fluid cuts, and has a good top end in the open field. They also have much like the other two teams in the previous part a very big offensive line.

Defensively the DL stands out right off the bat. Huge. They run a 4 man front with ability to move into a 3 man look at times. Also, In terms of the back seven, I was really impressed with the two linebackers #41 Carter Jacobs and #31 Justin Chang. Smart players, who make good reads, run to the ball and finish. Watch #2 Kyle Perez. I remember watching him vs. Cypress Bay he really stood out. One hit he detached a helmet from a WR on speed sweep. He's that kind of safety who can play cover 2 or 4, but can also role down into the box and be aggressive vs. the run.

Much like Lakewood, McKenzie in the return game is an intangible that could be a momentum changer or game breaker. This team is well coached and utilizes their talent.

Lake Wales has a great tradition, and anyone who knows Florida football is familiar with Polk County and the success teams from their have had. Head Coach Rod Shafer is one of the top coaches in the state and has established a great winning tradition at Lake Wales.

Watching them play, you notice the speed and aggression that his team plays with. Offensively, they run an offense that is a great equalizer. Split back veer/midline. If you don't defend the option with great discipline and play assignment football, 70 yard touchdowns start showing up. Lake Wales has the keep, give, and pitch aspects of the offense, so they have 3 threats at all times. Railond Garrett at QB is much like the other QB's in the semifinals. He is a good runner who can beat you with his arm.

On film he throws a nice fade route. RB Earnest Hamilton is not only a good running back, but he doubles in the return game as a major threat to go to the house or create good field position for his team .They execute well up front on offense, they are well coached there.

Defensively you saw more cover 3 from them, but tons of speed and good tackling. #1 Eddie Joseph and #56 Choncey Christian stand out. It will be tough to throw behind this team, they defend against the deep ball very well. They do a good job of fitting the run, but also getting extra defenders involved in stopping the run when it comes to getting safeties in the box. One other thing about this team which is a credit to the staff is how young they appear to be, did not see a ton of seniors on the roster.

One thing in closing about all four teams - the fitness level for all four is extremely high. These are programs that develop athletes, get them faster and stronger, and teach them the game. They also all have playmakers at QB who can run. That element is so hard to stop. Congratulations to all these teams on making it to this round.


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