Trenton takes on Blountstown tonight in state final
Published: Friday, December 6, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 11:20 p.m.
Class 1A state final
Who: No. 4 Trenton (11-1) vs. No. 1 Blountstown (13-0)
When: Tonight, 7:07
Where: Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Tickets: $12 ($17 reserved); parking $10
Twitter: To follow this game, go to twitter.com/sunpreps
Online broadcast: www.bhsnlive.com ($6.95 charge)
Since the Florida High School Athletic Association turned Class 1A into a rural division in 2011, no football team in the state has won more games in that division than Trenton.
In three years, the Tigers are 35-3. The only thing missing for the Gilchrist County school is a state title.
After stubbing its toe in last year's state final, losing to Bratt Northview (42-21), Trenton is back knocking at the door. The No. 4 Tigers (11-1) take on No. 1 Blountstown (13-0) tonight at 7:07 in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Every year since 2011 there has been a different 1A state champion (Jefferson County in 2011), and that will be case tonight. But will it be Trenton winning its first football title, the area's first since 1997, and school's second state championship in seven months (baseball)? Or will it be Blountstown, also known as the Tigers, winning its fourth title in football and first since 1977?
Trenton hung on to upset No. 2 Dixie County, 17-14, in the state semifinals last Friday as Trevante McCleese intercepted a pass at the Tigers' 4-yard line in the final seconds before a school-record crowd of 3,500 at The Jungle. Blountstown posted its eighth shutout of the season, blanking Cottondale 42-0 on the road. Those Tigers are only giving up 4.7 points a contest and have surrendered two touchdowns in a game only twice.
“They remind you a lot of Dixie County,” Trenton coach Andrew Thomas, who took over the Tigers' program in 2011, said of Blountstown. “They are not allowing much and get off blocks well. We have to be very efficient in what we do and take care of the ball.”
This time around, Trenton will have a much healthier quarterback in Stephen Smith, who a year ago was nursing a deep contusion in his right thigh, which limited the Tigers' triple-option attack.
“We are not satisfied with our win over Dixie,” said Smith, who pitched Trenton to a baseball title and will be playing his final football game tonight. “We have unfinished business and we are not going to stop until we are done.
“With me at 100 percent, it makes us that much more of a threat on offense. That's when the real triple option takes place. We have a lot of plays that will help us move the ball and gain yards against the defense they run.”
Senior Melvin Adams leads Trenton in rushing with 1,117 yards and 16 TDs and Smith, who has 622 yards and 6 TDs and has passed for 893 yards with 12 TDs and one interception. Kenny Deen and Powell have combined for 868 yards and 22 TDs.
Trenton's big-play threat comes from sophomore Hamp Cheevers, who has scored 17 TDs, and is a dangerous receiver and returner.
With Blountstown, it all begins with its defense, which has overpowered opponents all season.
“We put our best kids on the defensive side of the ball, and we do most of our substituting on offense,” said Blountstown coach Greg Jordan, who is in his eighth season. “We hang our hats on defense. We had two close games and our defense kept it close enough in the fourth that our offense could come back.”
Blountstown opened the season with a 24-21 overtime win at 4A DeFuniak Springs Walton and in October pulled out a critical District 3 win at Chipley, 14-13, scoring all of its points in the final quarter.
“That was the best team we have played,” said Jordan, whose son Hunter (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) is the part-time quarterback and one of the team's leading tacklers at linebacker. “They played us as hard as anyone did all year. Our defense played great and gave us the opportunity to rally.”
Blountstown's defense is led by linebacker Anthony Wyrick (99 tackles, 9.5 for loss), lineman Dewayne Laramore (94 tackles, 9.5 for loss) and safety Corin Peterson (85 tackles, 2 interceptions), who also has rushed for 413 yards, has a team-leading nine receptions and team-leading 17 TDs scored.
Alex Mayorga has 732 yards rushing with eight TDs. Hunter Jordan and Dylan Lee have combined for 931 yards passing with 12 TDs and seven interceptions. Blountstown, which hasn't allowed any points in the first quarter, is giving up just 112.2 yards per game. Trenton, which averages 42.8 points a game, has scored 153 of its 514 points in the first quarter.
Trenton offensive lineman Tyler Sauls said despite Blountstown's defensive reputation, he believes his offense will be able to move the football.
“We just need to do what we are supposed to do, everyone stay on their blocks and do their assignments,” he said. “As long as we stay on our offensive blocks, I think we will be fine.”
Both offenses are similar in total yards per game with Trenton averaging 332.9 and Blountstown 328.0. Trenton is giving up 192.7 yards and 15.8 points per game.
“There are no bad teams coming to Orlando,” Greg Jordan said. “It is all about matchups, who is going to block better, who is going to make mistakes, that is what it is going to boil down to.”
Powell, who has a team-leading 117 tackles, said Trenton needs to play 100 percent every play.
“They are pretty big,” he said. “Obviously they must be doing something right to be playing for the state championship. We are going to play our hearts out and get the job done this year.”