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Class 1A Championship Game
THE OUTLOOK:
Playing a tough schedule has helped the Northview Chiefs shed their 'bridesmaid' role. Two straight years the Northview Chiefs got to the state semi-finals only to fall. This year - it wasn't the case.
Northview exploded for 48 points against a Liberty County defense that had given up all of 14 in the post-season - led by RBs LaMikel Kyles and Brannon Freeman . Freeman ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns while Kyles added 122 and two touchdowns as the Chiefs dominated. QB Kevin Vaughn completed his first five passes while the game was still close, and ran the offense to perfection.
Kyles and Vaughn are the leading offensive weapons for the Chiefs. Kyles has rushed for 974 yards and fifteen touchdowns on the year. Vaughn has thrown for over 1200 yards and 13 touchdowns and has a bit of a legacy for the Chiefs. Vaughn's father quarterbacked the 1979 Ernest P. Ward state championship team. Ward and Century combined to create Northview High School.
Defensively, the Chiefs are led by Penn State commit Neiko Robinson. Robinson has been the mainstay of a Northview defense that has yielded an average of 8 points to teams in the Class 1A. In fact, the three losses the Chiefs have - all came to bigger schools.
The fact that Northview ran the ball 44 times against Liberty County should stand out. The Chiefs have a big and strong offensive line and will try to pound the ball down Trenton's interior.
On the flip side, while Northview was busy celebrating early - Trenton had to convert a two-point try to knock off rival Newberry 36-35 in overtime.
The Tigers are led by RB Cedrick Stokes (1822 yards, 26 touchdowns) and Jr. QB Stephen Smith. Smith was 7-of-9 for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the overtime win - while Stokes ran for 151 yards on 32 carries and scored twice.
Smith for the year has rushed for 1136 yards and 14 touchdowns while throwing for 863 yards and 15 scores. His favorite target is senior WR/LB Hunter Parrish (13 catches, 154 yards, 4 touchdowns).
Parrish is the leader on defense, averaging 7.6 tackles per game and 1.2 sacks per contest. Parrish (6-0, 175) is the son of assistant coach Terry Parrish.
Trenton second-year coach Andrew Thomas has built his team on defense, allowing just 13 points a game. The Tigers were 11-1 last year, falling to Jefferson County in the second round.
ANALYSIS: Northview has a bit of a hike to get to Orlando, traveling from the northwest corner of the state. How the Chiefs handle the time change (from Central to Eastern) and the long bus trip will tell in the first and fourth quarter. It's a new experience for both teams.
Trenton has been the top team in 1A for a while now - vanquishing all challengers. Only one time this season has anyone come within 10 points of the Tigers - and that was Newberry. That might be just what the doctor ordered for the Tigers - who seemed to be on cruise control for a while.
Northview also had a 'scare' - with Freeport taking the Chiefs to overtime before falling. Northview has gotten into some scoring matches with Marianna (48-42) and Freeport (34-28) but when the Chiefs are at full strength - they are tough to beat.
Keep your eye on Stokes. If he gets loose, it will be a long day for Northview. By the same token, if the Tigers can't stop Kyles and Freeman, Vaughn will have plenty of time to find an open receiver.
I picked against Trenton last week. Not doing that again.
PREDICTION: Trenton 31, Northview 21
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