High School Blitz


Lonnie Underwood and the Columbia Tigers host St. Johns Bartram Trail tonight in the regional semifinals.

Brad McClenny / Staff photographer
Published: Friday, November 22, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 8:39 p.m.

5 things of note in area sports

■ Last Friday night was pretty special for Gainesville High kicker Alex Holloway. Not only did he win the John Williams Award, which goes to the top kicker in District 7, but proved the award was well deserved by kicking a 42-yard field goal with 8.8 seconds left in the Hurricanes' dramatic 17-14 win over Land O'Lakes Sunlake in the opening round of the state playoffs at Citizens Field. “At halftime, I told him not to let this award affect his focus on on this game,” said Williams, UF's first African-American kicker. “I guess he showed everyone why he won this award.” Williams, who is also a Dixie County alum, said he will try to make tonight's big game in Cross City against Union County.

■ On Wednesday, in a U.S. Army All-American Bowl email sent out across the country announcing the 16 seniors up for the 2014 U.S. Army Player of the Year Award, among them was Deshawn Watson, quarterback, from Gainesville, Fla. Say what? Typo. Actually, Watson does play at Gainesville High ... in Georgia. The Florida nominee is Sony Michel of Plantation American Heritage, considered the No. 2 RB prospect in the nation by Rivals, who has committed to Georgia.

■ Lafayette setter Lydia Land, daughter of Hornets' coach Sonya Land, was among the 24 senior players selected to the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Volleyball Classic Sunday at St. Leo University. Land played on the Hornets' state title teams in 2011 and 2012. Lafayette, which went 18-5 this season, lost to Bell in the regional semifinals.

■ Former P.K. Yonge basketball standout Tyler Courson of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta was named the Southern Athletic Association's player of the week for his play in two wins at the Equinox Classic in Philadelphia last weekend. He scored a career-high 26 points in an 88-82 overtime win over Swarthmore, and had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a 63-57 victory over Haverford.

■ In the latest Prep Zone Power Poll in football, which covers 26 counties, Jacksonville First Coast (8A) remains No. 1 with South Sumter (5A) at No. 2 and Daytona Beach Mainland (6A) No. 3. Among the locals, Columbia (6A) is 6th, Dixie County (1A) 9th, Gainesville (6A) 10th and Union County (1A) 19th.

State playoff capsules

All games start at 7:30 p.m.; Admission is $8

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

CLASS 6A, REGION 1

■ ST. JOHNS BARTRAM TRAIL (6-5) AT NO. 6 COLUMBIA (10-1)

How they got here: Columbia def. St. Augustine 42-24 in the regional quarterfinals; Bartram Trail def. Jacksonville Ed White 50-20.

What's next: Columbia would host Choctawhatchee or travel to Navarre in the regional finals on Nov. 29; Bartram Trail would do the same.

Scouting report: This is the third consecutive year the Tigers and Bears meet, all coming in Lake City. Two years ago, Columbia fell to Bartram Trail in the regional semifinals (27-24), a year ago it beat the Bears (35-14) in the regional quarterfinals. Bartram Trail is one of the hottest teams in the region, winner of six straight games since its triple OT loss to Buchholz (24-21) at Citizens Field on Oct. 3, dropping to 0-5 on the season. The Bears are led by dual QB PJ Blazejowski, a recent Furman commit, who has accounted for 2,612 yards (1,889 pass, 723 run) and 24 touchdowns (14 pass). In Bartram Trail's stunning rout at No. 9 Ed White, the senior passed for 295 yards with 3 TDs and ran for 97 yards and a score as the Bears amassed a season-best 552 yards with 28 first downs. Defensively, BT held the Commanders, who trailed 21-3 after the first quarter, to 99 total yards. Since their 34-17 loss at Ed White, the Tigers have won four straight, outscoring their opponents 199-39. Junior RB Lonnie Underwood (1,624 yards, 33 TDs), injured in the Ed White loss, seems healthy again, running for 191 yards and three TDs (including a 74-yarder), the bulk of which came in the second half of Columbia's win at St. Augustine. Sophomore QB Jay Thomas, who missed much of the regular season with injury, passed for 110 yards with a 37-yard TD strike to Caleb Carswell for the game's first score. The Tigers defense, led by safety and FSU commit Trey Marshall, held the Yellow Jackets to 194 yards of offense and sophomore defensive back Robert Cray had two of the team's three interceptions, taking one back 61 yards for a score. Each year Brian Allen's teams have advanced one round beyond the previous year, which could mean a return trip to Navarre should Columbia win tonight.

LS: COLUM; JB: COLUM; LB: COLUM; PK: COLUM

CLASS 6A, REGION 2

■ GAINESVILLE (9-2) AT SPRING HILL SPRINGSTEAD (10-1)

How they got here: Gainesville def. Land O'Lakes Sunlake 17-14 in the regional quarterfinals; Springstead def. Citrus 21-6.

What's next: Gainesville would host No. 2 Seffner Armwood or No. 4 Tampa Jefferson in the regional finals on Nov. 29; Springstead would host Jefferson or play at Armwood.

Scouting report: This is the fourth meeting between these two schools since 2009 and a rematch of the 2010 Class 4A regional semifinal. The Hurricanes have reached the regional finals the previous three seasons while the Eagles are looking for their first regional final berth. Springstead avenged its only regular-season loss last week by knocking off Citrus, ending an 0-4 streak in home postseason games, with all the scoring coming in the first half. GHS rallied in the final two minutes, getting a 65-yard kickoff return for a TD from Tony James, a blocked punt from Malion Waddell and a 42-yard field goal by Alex Holloway in the final seconds to eliminate Sunlake at Citizens Field. James, an Oregon commit, has rushed for 731 of his 1,242 yards in the last five games. Senior TE Nick McGriff caught a TD pass from sophomore QB Caelan Christian, who has thrown for a TD in 9 of 11 starts but has been intercepted six times in the last 3 games. WR Kenric Young (19 catches, 380 yards, 6 TDs), held out last week, is expected to play tonight. Sophomore DE Jordan Giberti continues to play solid defensively for the 'Canes as has junior DB Ahmad Ivey. The Eagles have won 10 straight since their season-opening loss at Citrus (42-14), the first time the Eagles have won that many games in a season. Senior QB Tyler Mahla ran for two TDs and passed for another to Joe Jeffords for Springstead in last week's win. The Eagles' defense allowed just 137 yards on a sloppy field from rain during the game.

LS: GHS; JB: GHS; LB: GHS; PK: GHS

REGIONAL FINALS

CLASS 1A, REGION 3

■ NO. 4 TRENTON (9-1) AT JASPER HAMILTON COUNTY (5-5)

How they got here: Trenton def. Lafayette 50-21 in the regional semifinals; Hamilton County def. Bell 39-24.

What's next: Trenton would host No. 2 Dixie County or No. 3 Union County in the state semifinals on Nov. 29; Hamilton County would do the same.

Scouting report: For the visiting Tigers, defending state finalists and winners of eight straight games, this is their third straight regional final while it is the first for the home-standing Trojans since 2003 (2B class). Trenton ran for 281 yards against Lafayette last week, getting 130 and one TD from leading rusher Melvin Adams, who is 55 yards short of 1,000 for the season. Hamp Cheevers caught three passes, had an interception return for a TD and returned a punt 88 yards for a score in the win over the Hornets. QB Stephen Smith has passed for 762 yards with 11 TDs and 0 Ints. on the season, while also rushing for 460 yards and six TDs. Defensively, the Tigers gave up a season-high 27 points in a road win at Marianna and are giving up an average of 14.4 points per game, led by linebacker Jacquez Powell (91 tackles) and lineman Brandon Lovelace (19 tackles for loss). The Trojans, who went unbeaten in District 5, had lopsided losses to Union County (35-6), Dixie County (48-14) and Taylor County (54-12). Hamilton County QB Antfernee Smith threw for 198 yards and two TDs against Bell, connecting with La'Marcus Webb and Markevious Davis on scoring passes of 85 and 39 yards. Smith passed for 248 yards and 4 TDs in the Trojans' upset win at Lafayette in early October that ultimately clinched the district title.

LS: TRENTON; JB: TRENTON; LB: TRENTON; PK: TRENTON

CLASS 1A, REGION 4

■ NO. 3 UNION COUNTY (10-1) AT NO. 2 DIXIE COUNTY (9-0)

How they got here: Dixie County def. Wildwood 37-0 in the regional semifinals; Union County def. Crescent City 41-13.

What's next: Dixie County would play at No. 4 Trenton or Hamilton County in the state semifinals on Nov. 29; Union County would do the same.

Scouting report: This is a rematch of the Oct. 4 game between these two District 7 rivals, which Dixie County won 30-12, leading 30-0 before Union County added two scores in the fourth quarter. Since that loss, the Tigers have won five straight, winning by an average of 28 points per contest. The Bears are averaging 35.3 points per game and defensively giving up an average of 9.9 points. On offense, Union is led by the passing of junior Caleb Cox (1,356 yards, 13 TDs, 5 Ints.) and the running of Buddy Edwards (797 yards, 11 TDs), Geordyn Green (423 yards, 5 TDs) and Isaiah Johnson (391 yards, 4 TDs). Princeton Alexander has a team-high 17 receptions, and Green and Johnson are averaging 19.36 and 27.20 yards per catch, respectively. Linebacker Austin Dukes (103 tackles, 14 for loss), who also plays on the offensive line, leads the Union defense. Alden McClellan has a team-leading 25 tackles for loss. The Tigers are allowing just 10.5 points per game. Dixie County is averaging 293 yards a game on the ground, led by Kendall Copeland (891 yards, 9 TDs), Julian Robinson (780 yards, 4 TDs) and short-yardage specialist James Bowers (5-foot-9, 225 pounds), who doubles on the defensive line, and had TD runs of 27 and 34 yards against the Tigers in October. Aaron Thomas and FAMU commit Shaquille Mitchem split time at QB for the Bears, combining for 7 TDs (5 from Mitchem) and 586 yards. Mitchem, who has 211 yards rushing and 123 yards on 9 receptions, has scored eight TDs (3 rushing, 3 receiving, 2 on returns). Dixie County has six players defensively with more than 40 tackles, led by linebacker James Horsely with 73. UF commit Duke Dawson has two interceptions, 38 tackles and offensively has scored two TDs. Dixie County has lost its last four regional finals, the last in 2009 to No. 1 Fort Meade (49-7) in Cross City. That includes back-to-back losses to Union County and RB C.J. Spiller in 2003 (20-14 in Class 2B) and 2004 (33-22). Union is 3-2 in its last five regional finals, losing last year at home to Newberry (18-13) and in 2005 to Ocala Trinity Catholic (31-20 in Class 2B).

LS: DIXIE; JB: DIXIE; LB: DIXIE; PK: UNION

Gainesville Preps Power Rankings

Area's Top 10

1. Columbia 10-1

2. Gainesville 9-2

3. Dixie County 9-0

4. Union County 10-1

5. Trenton 9-1

6. Suwannee 7-3

7. Fort White 7-2

8. Lafayette 7-3

9. Chiefland 7-3

10. Bell 8-3

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