High School Blitz
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 9:01 p.m.
6 things of note in area sports
■ Prior to tonight's big District 7-1A game between No. 1 Union County and No. 3 Dixie County at Cross City, Bears coach Brent Wilkerson will be honored by his school. A plaque will be presented to him at 7 p.m. as a show of appreciation for his 15 years as Dixie County's coach.
■ The first day of practice for girls soccer is Monday, the first of the winter sports to get into action. The following Monday, Oct. 14, practice will start for boys soccer, with girls basketball and wrestling joining in on Oct. 21 and boys basketball starting on Oct. 28.
■ While practices for winter sports are closing in, there is still plenty of action left in the fall sports. District tournaments in golf (Oct. 14-15), volleyball (Oct. 21-24), cross country (Oct. 24-26) and swimming (Oct. 23-Nov. 2) are coming up. Football regional playoffs begin on Nov. 15.
■ Heather Page of Eastside was named most valuable player at last weekend's Gainesville Elite Volleyball Tournament, hosted by Oak Hall. Besides Page, other members of the all-tournament team were Brittany Gilliam (Chiefland), Madi Wyatt (Cornerstone), Brooke Evans (Oak Hall), Chelsea Dola (Williston), Kiara Barrett (Melbourne Central Catholic) and Ashley LaBorde (Ocala St. John Lutheran). St. John Lutheran won the tournament, defeating Cornerstone in the final, 3-1.
■ Volleyball continues to thrive in this area and state and national rankings prove it. P.K. Yonge (20-1) is ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, No. 4 in state (all classifications by MaxPreps), No. 39 nationally by prepvolleyball.com and No. 55 nationally by MaxPreps. St. Francis (17-2), the only team to beat the Blue Wave, is ranked No. 1 in 3A, No. 2 overall in state and No. 47 nationally by MaxPreps. It's a shame these two former district rivals will have played only once this season.
■ Fort White has recently filled two heading coaching positions. Baseball coach Mike Rizzi resigned for personal reasons and Rick Julius, who was an assistant coach and at one time the junior varsity coach, has been promoted to head coach. In boys soccer, John Portera has been named new coach.
Games of the Week
(All games at 7:30 p.m. unless noted)
■ NO. 1 UNION COUNTY (5-0 OVERALL, 0-0 DISTRICT) AT NO. 3 DIXIE COUNTY (3-0, 1-0): Huge game in the district, but considering the quality of this league, isn't every game critical? This will be the Tigers first district game of the season. A year ago, also in Cross City, Union County outscored Dixie County 21-0 in the second half for a 28-14 win. The Bears led 14-0 at one point in the first quarter. A win tonight by Dixie could vault it atop the Class 1A poll. Union has won eight straight regular season district games, losing only to Newberry in the regional finals in 2012. This Tigers team is more diverse than in years past behind junior QB Caleb Cox, who has passed for an area-best 731 yards, 7 TDs and 2 Ints. He is completing 63 percent of his throws. Senior RB Buddy Edwards has pounded his way to a team-leading 418 yards with 6 TDs. Isaiah Johnson is averaging 6.77 yards per carry. The Tiger defense, led by linebackers Austin Dukes and Princeton Alexander, has 26 tackles for loss and given up just 23 points in 5 games. Shaquille Mitchem triggers the Bears offense, which has an outstanding group of RBs, led by Kendall Copeland, Julian Robinson and James Bowers, who doubles along the defensive line. DB/WR Duke Dawson is a UF commit, who will also appear in the backfield on occassion. He will certainly be tested tonight in the secondary. Dixie County has had two weeks to prepare for this game following a thrilling 38-32 district win at Williston, rallying from a 24-6 deficit. Both teams still have to play Chiefland, also unbeaten and ranked No. 5 in state, later in the season.
LS: DIXIE; JB: UNION; LB: DIXIE; PK: DIXIE
■ WILLISTON (4-1, 0-1) AT NEWBERRY (3-2, 0-1): Another big District 7 game with two teams looking for their first league win. A loss here could knock a team out of the district race, unless it gets a lot of help. The is the Red Devils first district road game while it is the Panthers first league home game. Both teams played last week, with Newberry picking up a quality win at 4A Keystone Heights while Williston also won on the road at Wildwood. The Panthers broke a three-game losing streak in the series, beating the Devils 26-0 last year. Monte Seabrook continues to have an outstanding season for Newberry, returning a kick 73 yards for a TD, rushing for another score and defensively intercepting two passes and forcing two fumbles against the Indians. Williston had a punt return by Devon Webb, a kick return by Tay Hammonds and a fumble recovery by Tad Donald for TDs two weeks ago against Dixie County.
LS: NEWBERRY; JB: NEWBERRY; LB: WILLISTON; PK: NEWBERRY
DISTRICT 5-5A AT CITIZENS FIELD
■ SUWANNEE (2-1, 0-1) AT EASTSIDE (2-3, 2-0): The Rams return to Citizens Field, a week after pulling off a surprising 13-10 win over North Marion with six defensive starters out, serving a one-game suspension for a skirmish in Belleview the previous week. Those six are back, actually eight of the nine Eastside players suspended will be suited up to play tonight. The Rams' defense, led by the inspirational play of senior lineman Barry Johnson, contained the Colts a week ago. Eastside's offense, led by RBs Dantez Willis (123 yrds. ) and Octavious Simmons (66 yds, 6 carries, 1 TD), along with QB Malachi Lofland (1 TD run), had enough punch to move the ball pretty consistently last week and had no turnovers. The visiting Bulldogs, who lost at North Marion two weeks ago (27-14), were actually tied with the Colts at 14-14 in the 2nd quarter, but didn't score in the 2nd half. Denzel Washington and Steven Anderson both scored TDs for Suwannee in that game. The Bulldogs, who were idle last week, gave up a long pass and a 99-yard kickoff return for scores in Sparr.
LS: EASTSIDE; JB: EASTSIDE; LB: EASTSIDE; PK: EASTSIDE
■ BRONSON (4-1, 0-0) AT BELL (3-2, 0-1): The Eagles, winners of four straight to open the season, dropped their first game last week at Cottondale (42-12). They are making their third of five straight road trips and playing in their first district game of the season. Brad Cates and Brock Brower have combined for 1,031 yards and 13 TDs rushing for the Eagles. Bronson had only given up 30 points prior to last week's game in the Panhandle. Bell has one of the area's top RBs in Austin Ritchey (768 yds., 9 TDs), who is averaging nearly 8 yards a carry and 192 yards per game. Whichever defense can control the other team's rushing attack will likely win this one. Bell has already played Trenton but Bronson has not. Both still have to play Hilliard, Bell at home, Bronson on the road. Bell's playoff hopes will take a big hit with a loss.
BROADCAST: 93.3 FM, AM-940 and 1240
LS: BRONSON; JB: BRONSON; LB: BRONSON; PK: BRONSON
■ TRENTON (2-1, 1-0) AT HILLIARD (4-1, 1-0): The Tigers have dominated this series lately, winning the last three by a combined 158-27. Will this follow suit? The Red Flashes are led by a freshman RB in Armani Scott (368 yds., 5 TDs). Trenton QB Stephen Smith is averaging 136.7 total yards (214 run, 196 pass) a game.
LS: TRENTON; JB: TRENTON; LB: TRENTON; PK: TRENTON
■ GAINESVILLE (3-1, 1-0) AT OCALA FOREST (1-3, 0-1): The visiting Hurricanes have won three straight while the host Wildcats have lost three of their first four, the last two (at South Lake, at Citrus) by a combined 105-26. Oregon commit RB Tony James (314 yds., 2 TDs) and highly recruited WR Kenric Young (9-210, 3 TDs) lead the GHS offense. The 'Canes have 13 sacks, led by sophomore Jordan Giberti (4.5, 42 tackles), while S Malion Waddell has a team-leading 47 tackles. RB Kenny Tucker has 312 yds., 5 TDs for Forest.
BROADCAST: AM-1230, theprepzone.com (audio only)
LS: GHS; JB: GHS; LB: GHS; PK: GHS
■ FORT WHITE (3-0, 0-0) AT FERNANDINA BEACH (3-2, 0-0): District opener for both teams. The Indians have one of the top RBs in the area in senior Tavaris Williams (860 yds., 10 TDs), who is averaging 13 yards a carry and 287 yards per game. He accounts for 64 percent of Fort White's offense. The Pirates are playing their first home game in a month.
LS: FT. WHITE; JB: FT. WHITE; LB: FT. WHITE; PK: FT. WHITE
■ ORANGE PARK (2-2, 0-1) AT NO. 2 COLUMBIA (5-0, 2-0): The host Tigers have been dominant, averaging 46.6 points a game and led by area's top RB in junior Lonnie Underwood (967 yds., 22 TDs). Columbia, which ranks No. 7 in Florida and No. 69 nationally by MaxPreps, has given up only 7 points in the second half and 44 total. The Raiders lost their homecoming game last week to Jacksonville White (41-13), which the Tigers play next week on the road in what could decide the district champion.
LS: COLUMBIA; JB: COLUMBIA; LB: COLUMBIA; PK: COLUMBIA
■ BRANFORD (3-2, 0-0) AT JEFFERSON COUNTY (0-4, 0-0): In a 4-team district, every game is important and this is a big one for the Buccaneers if they have any thoughts of reaching the playoffs. The host Tigers, state champions in 2011, have been struggling.
LS: BRAN; JB: JEFFERSON; LB: JEFFERSON; PK: JEFFERSON
■ HAMILTON COUNTY (1-3, 0-0) AT NO. 4 LAFAYETTE (4-0 0-0): District openers for both teams. The host Hornets, who have won convincingly all season, dipped a spot in 1A poll. QB Brycen Lee has passed for 546 yds., 7 TDs, and RB Lee Jones has 415 yds., 4 TDs.
LS: LAFAY; JB: LAFAY; LB: LAFAY; PK: LAFAY
■ P.K. YONGE (2-3, 0-0) AT DAYTONA BEACH FATHER LOPEZ (1-4 0-0): Opening district game for both teams. The Blue Wave have won two straight since opening season with three losses and can stay in playoff race with win. Lopez has been outscored 174-51.
LS: PKY; JB: LOPEZ; LB: LOPEZ; PK: LOPEZ
■ BRADFORD (1-3, 1-0) AT INTERLACHEN (1-4 0-0): Despite their overall record, the Tornadoes can stay atop district with a win.
LS: BRADFORD; JB: BRADFORD; LB: BRADFORD; PK: BRADFORD
NORTH FLORIDA CONFERENCE
■ OAK HALL (0-5, 0-1) AT ST. FRANCIS (0-5, 0-2): Both teams are desperate for a victory and odds are one of them will get it.
LS: ST. FRANCIS; JB: ST. FRANCIS; LB: ST. FRANCIS; PK: ST. FRANCIS
■ EUSTIS (1-4) AT KEYSTONE HEIGHTS (2-3): The host Indians, atop their district with Bradford, have three league games ahead of them and can even its record with a win tonight.
LS: KEYSTONE; JB: KEYSTONE; LB: KEYSTONE; PK: KEYSTONE
Idle: Chiefland, Hawthorne, Santa Fe
Last week: Larry Savage 12-1; Paul Kardasz 11-2; Laura Bernheim 10-3; John Boothe 10-3
Season: Laura 70-8 (.897); Paul 69-9 (.885); John 68-10 (.872); Larry 68-10 (.872)
Gainesville Preps Power Rankings
Area's Top 10
1. Columbia 4-0
2. Gainesville 3-1
3. Union County 4-0
4. Fort White 3-0
5. Dixie County 3-0
6. Chiefland 5-0
7. Lafayette 4-0
8. Buchholz 2-2
9. Trenton 2-1
10. Eastside 2-3
Prep Zone Power Poll
The Prep Zone Power Poll covers 26 counties in North Central Florida and includes all classifications (www.theprepzone.com)
1. Columbia (6) (6A) 5-0 – 139
2. Jax Trinity Christian (1) (3A) 4-0 – 134
3. Jacksonville Raines (4A) 3-1– 124
4. Neptune Beach Fletcher (7A) 3-1 – 116
5. South Sumter (5A) 5-0 – 110
6. Jacksonville Bolles (4A) 4-1 – 101
7. Jacksonville First Coast (8A) 3-1 – 96
8. Daytona Mainland (6A) 4-1 – 90
9. Jacksonville Bishop Kenny (5A) 3-0 – 89
10. Fleming Island (7A) 5-0 – 80
11. Jacksonville Sandalwood (8A) 4-1 – 67
12. Gainesville (6A) 3-1 – 65
13. St. Augustine (6A) 4-1 – 51
14. Daytona Beach Seabreeze (6A) 4-0 – 42
15. Jax University Christian (2A) 3-2 – 38
16. Union County (1A) 5-0 – 37
17. Dixie County (1A) 3-0 – 19
18. Citrus (6A) 4-0 – 18
19. Jacksonville Ed White (6A) 4-1 – 16
20. Ocala Trinity Catholic (3A) 3-2 – 15