Three things I learned in last Friday's FHSAA Class 3A regional finals:
1. Taking notes on University
In a matchup between arguably two of the state's five best teams, regardless of classification, Fort Lauderdale's University School topped Delray Beach American Heritage, 34-17, last Friday night.
Despite giving up an 85-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Marcus Davis to sophomore receiver Trenard Davis on the first play of the game, the Stallions never wavered, winning behind 245 rushing yards and two touchdowns from sophomore Jordan Scarlett, who already holds scholarship offers from Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and UCLA, among others.
Next up is Clearwater Central Catholic, which has won 11 straight since a 36-21 season-opening loss at Class 8A regional finalist Tarpon Springs East Lake. The Marauders' defense has been nasty of late, allowing a total of seven points to its last five opponents.
2. On the money
Generally, if making bets on which schools year-in, year-out will advance the furthest in the FHSAA state playoffs, Madison County would be on the short list of good calls.
And if making a joke about the team least likely to win a game with its kicker, the Cowboys might often stand alone.
That is no longer the case, thanks to Zach Money, whose 27-yard field goal in overtime lifted Madison County past Pensacola Catholic, 17-14, last Friday night. With the Cowboys not playing touchdown-or-bust football any more, that makes them more difficult to defend.
3. Unheralded, yet unbeaten
Quietly going about its business this year is The First Academy in Orlando.
A mere 2-8 in 2009, coach Leroy Kinard's team now sits 12-0 and a victory away from playing for the Class 3A state championship.
In last Friday's 27-17 victory against visiting Ocala Trinity Catholic, the Royals forced three turnovers and two more on downs.
And seven times this year, First Academy has held the opposition to single digits (including four shutouts). Facing a Madison County squad that has scored at least 29 points in 10 of 12 games this season, the Royals have their biggest test of the season in front of them.