High school blitz
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 11:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 11:30 p.m.
5 things of note in area sports
■ Sometimes in life, things just work out. And for former Keystone Heights softball standout Kelsey Waters, her arrival to Stetson was just that. Originally signed to State College of Florida in Sarasota, Waters had interest in Stetson her senior year, but by the time she applied, the school wasn't accepting any more students. But 24 hours before she was scheduled to move in at SCF, Waters received an email from Stetson softball coach Frank Griffin asking her to give him a call. It ended up her application to Stetson had been accepted and academic scholarship she applied for still had funds remaining. Read about Waters' journey to Stetson at http://bit.ly/166GF4d
■ P.K. Yonge, 24-1 going into Thursday night's District 5-4A tournament final against host Santa Fe, moved up the national ranks to No. 17 in MaxPreps Xcellent 25. The Blue Wave, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, have won 19 straight matches going into the district final. Going into Thursday, our area had 12 volleyball teams playing for district titles. Regional quarterfinals begin Tuesday for 7A, 5A and 3A schools and Wednesday for 6A and 4A schools. 1A teams start at regional semifinals, which are Tuesday, Nov. 5.
■ The start of soccer season is just around the corner and there will be a boys varsity preseason classic on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Twin Lake Park in Keystone Heights. Eight local teams will be competing — host Keystone Heights, Buchholz, Gainesville, Eastside, Suwannee, Interlachen, P.K. Yonge and Newberry. Clay, Fernandina Beach and Palatka will also participate. Matches start at 9 a.m. with the final matches at 4:30 p.m.
■ Monday is the first official practice day for boys basketball and opening of girls soccer season.
■ It is always interesting to see where former football coaches in the area are. Former Bronson coach Al Cooksey is in his second year as Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools. Former Suwannee coach Willie Spears has led Pensacola Escambia to a 6-1 record and plays a big District 1-6A game tonight at Pace. Former GHS coach Ryan Smith, who is at Taylor County, plays a tough game tonight at Tallahassee Lincoln. Next week, Smith and his Bulldogs host Fort White for the District 2-4A title. James Thomson, who led GHS to the state 6A title game last season, is 2-6 in his first season at DeLand, taking on Madison County tonight. And former Hawthorne coach James Sims is in his second year at La Canada High in California.Bobcat boys will play Tuesday at Seminole Golf Course, also in Tallahassee. Columbia girls will host Region 2-2A on Tuesday, while the boys, both district champs, will play at The Plantation in Ponte Vedra.
Games of the Week
(All games at 7:30 p.m. unless noted)
NO. 10 INVERNESS CITRUS (7-0, 2-0) AT GAINESVILLE (6-3, 3-1): Both teams are heading to the state playoffs, but this game will decide the district champion. For the host Hurricanes, they are going for their second straight league title and look to extend their home win streak at Citizens Field to 15 straight (34 of 35 since 2009). But it won't be easy against the other Hurricanes on the field, unbeaten Citrus, who like GHS, beat Vanguard (41-33) in Ocala. Citrus is averaging 38 points a game and handed Springstead (6-1), likely District 6-6A champion (who the loser of this game could play at in opening round of playoffs), its only loss of season. RB James Pouncy, who can also pass, has a team-leading 505 yds. and 2 TDs. Senior QB Deion Moore has completed less than 50 percent of passes (35 of 80), but has thrown for 713 yards, 8 TDs and 0 Ints. Citrus is very disciplined and doesn't turn the ball over much and doesn't make many mistakes. Defensively, tackle Steven Knowles, Jesse Vineyard and LBs Jamiee Juse and Travis Blotz have a combined 62 tackles for loss. Knowles has 14 sacks. GHS dominated Vanguard last week, winning 35-6, with Oregon commit Tony James running for 182 yards and 2 TDs, one a 77-yarder. Dontarian Evans also ran for a TD and also provides speed in the backfield. Kenric Young, another speedster who has 29 college offers, is a threat at receiver and defensive back. Sophomore QB Caelan Christian continues to improve, and the GHS defense, led by senior S Juan Jenkins and senior LB Spencer Bauer, played its best game of the year last week and faces another test tonight.
Broadcast: AM-1230; Online (audio and video) at theprepzone.com
LS: GHS; JB: GHS; LB: GHS; PK: GHS
NO. 3 UNION COUNTY (6-1, 1-1) AT CHIEFLAND (6-1, 2-0): One of the most anticipated league games of the season. The visiting Tigers, once the No. 1 team in 1A who dropped their first district game in more than two years at Dixie County on Oct. 4, are in a must-win situation. A win over the Indians would put Chiefland in a must-win situation next week at Dixie County (which played Thursday at Newberry). The result could be a three-team tiebreaker, unless Chiefland disrupts that scenario by beating Union and clinching a playoff berth. The Indians have two outstanding RBs in Alphonso Timmons (873 yds., 7 TDs) and versatile Deshawn Roland (749 all-purpose yds.). QB Shaquille Patterson is averaging 25 yards per completion, with 7 TDs and 1 Int. The Indians have one of the area's stingiest defenses, giving up just 44 points in 7 games (6.3 per game) with 108 tackles for loss. DE Payton Parnell has 28 tackles for loss and 7 sacks. LB Billy Hammond has a team-leading 68 tackles. The Tigers also have a tough defense, led by LB Austin Dukes (71 tackles, 11 for loss) and Alden McClellon (56 tackles, 15 for loss). Sophomore QB Caleb Cox is among the area leaders in passing, averaging 138.4 per game, with 9 TDs and 2 Ints. RB Buddy Edwards has rushed 525 yds. and 8 TDs. The Tigers have won the last 3 meetings, including last year in Lake Butler, 12-6. The Indians last won in this series at home in 2007 (43-11).
Broadcast: WZCC 93.3 FM, AM 940 and AM 1240
LS: CHIEFLAND; JB: CHIEFLAND; LB: CHIEFLAND; PK: CHIEFLAND
HILLIARD (5-2, 2-1) AT BELL (5-2, 1-1): Biggest football game in Bell history. If the Bulldogs win, they earn their first state playoff berth. This has been a goal of this team for years and has only intensified since the season started. Now the opportunity is here. Bell has won 3 straight (including forfeit from Oak Hall) after back-to-back losses to district champ Trenton and Lafayette. The Bulldogs are led by senior RB Austin Ritchey, who leads the area with 1,274 yds. (212.3 per game average) and 14 TDs. QB Jacob Johnson has passed for 406 yds. with 6 TDs and 5 Ints., with WR Bruce Thomas averaging 36.7 yards per catch (6-220 yds.). Hilliard, which beat Bronson last week (21-6), is led by RBs Brian Clark (400 yds., 7 TDs) and freshman Armani Scott (381 yds., 5 TDs). QB Bryce Jenkins passed for 119 yds., completing 11 of 17 throws, with 1 TD against the Eagles last week. Clark also had 12 tackles on defense. Last year the Red Flashes beat the Bulldogs 29-14 in Hilliard to deny Bell a playoff berth.
LS: BELL; JB: BELL; LB: BELL; PK: BELL
EASTSIDE (3-4, 3-1) AT DUNNELLON (5-3, 3-2): The Rams' final two league games are on the road and both will be tough challenges. When you consider where Dunnellon was three weeks ago, 3-0 and on top of the district, the Tigers are now reeling. Convincing losses at home to North Marion (34-7) and at Suwannee (31-3) have the Dunnellon nearly out of the playoff picture. They would definitely need help, but a victory tonight could keep them in the hunt. The Rams are coming off their most convincing win of the season, 36-7, over struggling Crystal River, led by soph. Malachi Lofland, who ran for 71 yards and 4 TDs, and also caught a TD pass from QB Landon Rogers. Octavious Simmons had a 71-yard TD run as Eastside amassed 220 yards rushing. The same night that the Rams scored their most points this season, the Tigers were held (by Suwannee) to their lowest.
LS: DUNNELLON; JB: EASTSIDE; LB: EASTSIDE; PK: EASTSIDE
UMATILLA (1-6, 1-2) AT BRADFORD (2-4, 2-0): The host Tornadoes can clinch their 1st playoff berth since 2011 with a victory over the Bulldogs. If there was ever an example of how important district games are to a season, Bradford — 2-4 overall and 2-0 in the district — would be it as it closes in on a playoff berth. The Tornadoes have the top WR in the area in senior Kenny Dinkins (27 catches, 674 yds., 7 TDs), and also the top passer in QB Jacob Luke (982 yds., 10 TDs, 6 Ints.). Umatilla won its 1st district game last week, beating Interlachen 23-13. The Tornadoes appear headed to a showdown next week at Keystone Heights for the district title.
LS: BRADFORD; JB: BRADFORD; LB: BRADFORD; PK: BRADFORD
INTERLACHEN (1-7, 0-2) AT KEYSTONE HEIGHTS (3-3, 2-0): The host Indians can clinch their 1st playoff berth since 2006 with a victory over the Rams. In last week's 40-13 district win at The Villages, RB Anton Noble ran for 177 yards and 2 TDs, and also returned a kickoff 85 yards for a score. LB Darien Gilio has an area-leading 111 tackles, averaging 18.5 per game, with 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. Interlachen has lost 6 straight since its only win over Hawthorne (7-6).
LS: KEYSTONE; JB: KEYSTONE; LB: KEYSTONE; PK: KEYSTONE
JACKSONVILLE LEE (2-6, 0-5) AT NO. 5 COLUMBIA (6-1, 3-1): The host Tigers have had 2 weeks to endure that loss in Jacksonville to Ed White (34-17) that will cost them the district title. Columbia, which plays at Middleburg next week, has to win its next 2 games to secure a playoff berth. Despite missing most of the Ed White game with an injury (hip flexor), RB Lonnie Underwood remains one of the area's top rushers (1,179 yds., 25 TDs). The Generals, who were crushed last week by Ed White 84-0, has given up 255 points on the season.
LS: COLUMBIA; JB: COLUMBIA; LB: COLUMBIA; PK: COLUMBIA
HAWTHORNE (4-1, 0-1) AT BRONSON (5-3, 0-2): The host Eagles, who close their season next week at No. 5 Trenton, can pick up their 1st district win of the season and post the most victories in a season in more than 10 years. RB Brock Brower is 71 yards short of 1,000 yards.
LS: BRONSON; JB: BRONSON; LB: BRONSON; PK: BRONSON
NORTH FLORIDA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
ST. AUGUSTINE ST. JOSEPH (4-3, 2-0) AT OAK HALL (0-8, 0-3): Former St. Francis coach Matt Olesnevich returns to Gainesville as the Flashes look to stay unbeaten in the conference. The Eagles are coming off their worst loss of the season.
LS: ST. JOSEPH; JB: ST. JOSEPH; LB: ST. JOSEPH; PK: ST. JOSEPH
5A SUWANNEE (5-1) AT 4A NO. 5 FORT WHITE (5-0): An intriguing non-district game between two of the area's top football teams. The visiting Bulldogs, fighting for a playoff berth and league title in District 5-5A, have one of the area's top defenses, allowing just 13 points in the last three games, all district wins. The host Indians, who last week knocked out Madison County from the playoffs for the 1st time since 1994, have an outstanding RB in Tavaris Williams (1,248 yds., 14 TDs).
LS: SUWANNEE; JB: FORT WHITE; LB: SUWANNEE; PK: FORT WHITE
LECANTO (2-5) AT WILLISTON (5-3): The host Red Devils, who end their season at Union County next week, can post a winning record in their 1st season in 1A with a victory tonight. RB Keith Neal (531 yds., 11 TDs) and Devon Webb (444 yds., 1 TD) lead Williston on the ground. The Panthers have lost 5 straight.
LS: WILLISTON; JB: WILLISTON; LB: WILLISTON; PK: WILLISTON
3A P.K. YONGE (3-5) AT 1A LAFAYETTE (5-1): The host Hornets are closing in on their 9th straight playoff berth, still needing to beat Branford next week to clinch it. The visiting Blue Wave, in their 1st season in 3A district play, look to rebound from one-sided loss at Ocala Trinity Catholic last week.
LS: LAFAYETTE; JB: LAFAYETTE; LB: LAFAYETTE; PK: LAFAYETTE
1A NO. 5 TRENTON (5-1) AT MARIANNA (2-5): Tough test for the Tigers in the Panhandle against the Bulldogs, who despite their record, beat Bratt Northview (which beat Trenton in last year's 1A state final) and lost by just 3 points (30-27) to 2A No. 3 North Florida Christian. RB Melvin Adams ran for 181 yds. on just 12 carries and scored 4 TDs for Trenton in last week's District 6-1A clinching win over Hawthorne.
LS: TRENTON; JB: TRENTON; LB: TRENTON; PK: TRENTON
Idle: Branford, St. Francis
Last week: Laura Bernheim 16-1; John Boothe 15-2; Paul Kardasz 13-4; Larry Savage 13-4
Season: Laura 107-16 (.870); John 103-20 (.837); Paul 103-20 (.837); Larry 99-24 (.805)
Gainesville Preps Power Rankings
Area's Top 10
1. Columbia 6-1
2. Gainesville 6-1
3. Dixie County 5-0
4. Fort White 5-0
5. Suwannee 6-1
6. Union County 6-1
7. Trenton 5-1
8. Chiefland 6-1
9. Lafayette 5-1
10. Eastside 3-4
Prep Zone Power Poll
The Prep Zone Power Poll covers 26 counties in North Central Florida and includes all classifications (www.theprepzone.com)
1. South Sumter (3) 8-0 – 132
2. Jacksonville First Coast (2) 6-1 – 129
3. Daytona Bch Mainland (1) 7-1 – 125
4. Fleming Island (7-0) – 120
5. Jax Trinity Christian (1) 6-1 – 113
6. Columbia 6-1 – 103
7. Jacksonville Bishop Kenny 6-0 – 96
8. Jacksonville Ed White 6-1 – 89
9. Neptune Beach Fletcher 5-2 – 87
10. Jacksonville Raines 5-2– 79
10. Jacksonville Sandalwood 6-1 – 79
12. St. Augustine 6-1 – 59
13. Gainesville 6-1 – 56
13. Citrus 7-0 – 56
15. Jacksonville Bolles 5-2 – 34
16. Dixie County 5-0 – 32
17. Jax University Christian 5-2 – 23
18. Fort White 5-0 – 21
19. Daytona Beach Seabreeze 5-1 – 16
20. Suwannee (5-1) – 6
Also receiving votes: Warner Christian (6-1) 5; North Marion (5-2) 3; Ocala Trinity Catholic (5-3) 3; Jax Ribault (5-2) 3; Chiefland (6-1) 1.