High School Blitz


Eastside opens its season Friday night against Buchholz at Citizens Field.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, August 29, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 29, 2014 at 12:52 a.m.

4 things of note in area sports

* Former Small School Player of the Year (2011) in football, A.J. Legree of Fort White, transferred from Kentucky and now plays at USF. The wide receiver played two years for the Wildcats and played in every game, catching a total of 19 passes for 210 yards. He will have two years eligibility left at USF. Ironically, Chris Bivins, who was The Sun's Big School Player of the Year in 2011 and was photographed with Legree, transferred from USF to Highland Community College in Highland, Kan. Bivins, an outstanding cornerback at Gainesville High, re-tore his ACL in 2012 which he originally suffered in the 2011 Class 6A regional final loss at Seffner Armwood. Although he played four games for the Bulls as a freshman, once injured, he missed the remainder of the season and didn't play as sophomore under new coach Willie Taggart. Bivins' sister, Kayla, a standout volleyball player at GHS and The Sun's Big School Player of the Year, also played at USF during her freshman year. She initially took a redshirt in 2012 and has transferred to Butler University in Indianapolis, where she will restart her college career as a sophomore. The Bulldogs open their season today against Virginia Tech in the Bluegrass Battle in Lexington, Ky.

* Florida High School Football, along with FlaVarsity, are putting out a comprehensive top 25 poll each Monday, released around noon. Two-time defending Class 4A champion Miami Washington, MaxPreps No. 1 national team from 2013, tops the poll, followed by Miami Central (2-time defending 6A champ) and Plantation American Heritage (3A defending state champ) are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Washington has the state's longest current win streak at 27 games. AP releases its football poll each Tuesday.

* Two Gainesville boys basketball graduates recently signed to colleges: Kevin Bolen heading to Indian River College in Fort Pierce and Mark McGraw going to Edward Waters College in Jacksonville.

* The Gator Town Classic volleyball tournament starts next Friday at Buchholz and Santa Fe College. Teams playing are Gainesville, St. Francis, Spruce Creek, Creekside, Bolles, Providence, Ocala Trinity Catholic, Oak Hall, Fletcher, The Rock, Ocala St. John Lutheran, St. Augustine, Tallahassee Lincoln, St. Petersburg Northside Christian, Buchholz and Santa Fe.

Games of the Week

Citizens Field

7A BUCHHOLZ AT 5A EASTSIDE: Nine of the last 10 games in this series have been decided by seven points or less with both teams winning five each. Last year, the Bobcats' Laron James returned an interception 35 yards to clinch a 13-6 win over the Rams. Prior to that, Eastside had rallied to win in both 2012 (13-10) and 2011 (24-19), and has won five of the last seven meetings. The Rams have two Super 11 players in athlete Malachi Lofland and RB Octavious Simmons along with experience in senior QB in Landon Rogers. Jackson White returns at QB for Buchholz with Gerald Donald at RB and Naquan Howard at WR. Both teams have questions on defense

ONLINE BROADCAST: theprepzone.com

LS: EAST; PK: BUCH; LB: BUCH; MR: EAST; MP: EAST

1A NEWBERRY AT 5A SANTA FE: The visiting 1A Panthers have won the last two and seven of the last eight meetings against the 5A Raiders, who last won in 2011 (17-16). Santa Fe, under third-year coach Bill Wiles, has perhaps its best team since 2011 and a Super 11 performer in QB/RB Jemari Ford, who ran for 226 yards and three TDs in a dominating win over Buchholz in the spring. Newberry, under second-year coach Kepa Sarduy, has a FSU commit in 6-foot-4, 275-pound sophomore DE Ja'len Parks.

LS: SF; PK: SF; LB: SF; MR: SF; MP: SF

1A NO. 4 LAFAYETTE AT 1A NO. 1 TRENTON: A great Class 1A matchup, with the defending state champions putting their 21-game home win streak on the line against a team that has lost five straight to the Tigers since 2011. The Hornets have a seasoned QB in 6-foot-5 senior Brycen Lee, solid WR in Tim Fleming, pounding RB in Lee Jones and a good defense. Trenton has one of the most exciting players in WR Hamp Cheevers, Michael Smith taking over at QB (replacing brother Stephen) and a tough defense, led by DL Brandon Lovelace, one of nine starters back. And the Tigers have home-field advantage. Should be another classic.

LS: LAFAY; PK: LAFAY; LB: TRENT; MR: LAFAY; MP: TRENT

1A BRONSON AT 1A CHIEFLAND: Not a district game, but should play like one as the Eagles are much improved under third-year coach Cameron Porch. Bronson cruised in its fall classic last week, winning easily over Wildwood 48-7. The host Indians, who also cruised over Bell in last week's classic, return one of the area's top RBs in Alphonso Timmons and fellow senior G.G. McClendon is expected to be a big-play threat. Bronson has experience on both lines of scrimmage, led by senior OL Zach Chemin (6-3, 242) and Michael Coughlin (6-1, 232), but like Chiefland is breaking in a new QB.

LS: CHIEF; PK: CHIEF; LB: CHIEF; MR: CHIEF; MP: CHIEF

Others

5A SUWANNEE AT 4A BRADFORD: The visiting Bulldogs, who figure to contend in District 5-5A, lost a tough OT preseason game at Madison County last week (28-27). Suwannee, which reached the state playoffs for first time in 10 years in 2013, has speed and power in junior WR Aaron McAllister, RBs Denzel Washington and Jai Kinsey, and a savvy defense led by LB Kodie Mercer. Bradford, under new coach Corey Green, had its preseason game at Buchholz canceled because of weather. Senior QB Jacob Luke enters his third year as starter for the host Tornadoes.

LS: SUW; PK: SUW; LB: SUW; MR: SUW; MP: SUW

1A WILLISTON AT 3A P.K. YONGE: The visiting Red Devils come in with a new coach in Cliff Lohrey, whose team had seven turnovers in a 14-9 fall classic loss to his former team, Brooksville Central. Luckily, that game doesn't count but this one does. The host Blue Wave didn't have much offense in a one-sided loss to 5A Santa Fe in last week's preseason game.

LS: WILL; PK: WILL; LB: WILL; MR: WILL; MP: WILL

1A HAMILTON COUNTY AT 4A FORT WHITE: The host Indians, winners of their first district title and a playoff berth a year ago, bring a young offense into this season, led by QB Dexter Jackson Jr., son of coach Dexter Jackson. Among those gone is standout RB Tavaris Williams, who now plays at Utah. The visiting Trojans look to repeat as District 5-1A champs, once again knocking off Lafayette (on Oct. 3).

LS: FW; PK: FW; LB: FW; MR: FW; MP: FW

1A NO. 3 DIXIE COUNTY AT 1A TAYLOR COUNTY: The Bears were literally one play from playing in the state championship in 2013, falling at Trenton. Dixie has plenty back from that team, including QB Aaron Thomas, RB Julian Robinson, LB James Horsley and DT Trey Simmons. The defense could be even better than last year. The host Wildcats have a new coach.

LS: DIXIE; PK: DIXIE; LB: DIXIE; MR: DIXIE; MP: DIXIE

IND POTTER'S HOUSE CHRISTIAN AT 1A NO. 5 UNION COUNTY: A year ago the Tigers opened their season with a 34-0 win over the Lions. Union has one of the area's best QBs in senior Caleb Cox and LBs in Alden McClellon.

LS: UNION; PK: UNION; LB: UNION; MR: UNION; MP: UNION

3A BROOKWOOD (GA.) AT 1A BELL: Tough opener for the host Bulldogs, who return 12 starters, but must be able to run the football effectively and doesn't have a back like it had a year ago in graduated Austin Ritchey (2,215 yards in 2013).

LS: BROOK; PK: BROOK; LB: BROOK; MR: BROOK; MP: BROOK

IND ST. JOHNS COUNTRY DAY AT IND ST. FRANCIS, 7 P.M.: The host Wolves have most of last year's team back, including FB/LB Austin Manning, QB Danny Veilleux, DT/OG Brenden Abrams and PK Lexie Scott. But the visiting Spartans will be a tough opening challenge.

LS: SJCD; PK: SJCD; LB: SJCD; MR: SJCD; MP: SJCD

4A KEYSTONE HEIGHTS AT 4A WEST NASSAU: The host Warriors lost 25 seniors, but the visiting Indians struggled in their preseason loss to 5A Ridgewood last week (39-6). West Nassau posted a shutout in Keystone (14-0) last year. The Indians have a Super 11 RB in Anton Noble but lost their defensive leader for the season in LB Sam Anderson (injury).

LS: NASSAU; PK: NASSAU; LB: NASSAU; MR: NASSAU; MP: KEY

2A CEDAR CREEK CHRISTIAN AT 1A HAWTHORNE: Tough opener for the Hornets, who should show improvement this season but face a bigger classification team from Jacksonville to start things off.

LS: CCC; PK: CCC; LB: CCC; MR: CCC; MP: CCC

1A BRANFORD AT IND AUCILLA CHRISTIAN, 7 P.M.: A year ago, the Buccaneers won this game at home by a point (23-22), one of only three losses by the Warriors. This time, Branford has to take the long trip to Monticello.

LS: AC; PK: BRANFORD; AC; MR: AC; MP: AC

4A INTERLACHEN AT 5A WEEKI WACHEE: Both teams didn't fare well in the preseason, but the Rams were shut out at 2A No. 2 Victory Christian. In 2013, Interlachen lost to this team in its season opener at home by 22 points.

LS: WW; PK: WW; LB: WW; MR: WW; MP: WW

PREDICTIONS PANEL

Larry Savage, Gainesville Sun high school sports editor

Paul Kardasz, Gainesville Sun copy editor

Laura Bernheim, Gainesville Sun correspondent and defending champion

Mike Ridaught, play-by-play announcer for JockJive, NHFS Network and The Prep Zone

Marty Pallman, play-by-play announcer for The Prep Zone and NFHS Network, and sports talk co-host for WDVH News Radio 980 AM in Gainesville

Gainesville Preps

Football Power Rankings

Area's Top 10 (Preseason edition)

1. Columbia

2. Gainesville

3. Suwannee

4. Santa Fe

5. Trenton

6. Eastside

7. Lafayette

8. Dixie County

9. Union County

10. Chiefland

Attention coaches

Please call in your box scores to 352-374-5050 each night by 10:30. Football coaches should call in their box scores no later than 11:30 p.m. on Friday.

Box scores can be emailed to us if you know correct format. Can email to sports@gainesvillesun.com

Football, volleyball, golf and cross country coaches should email weekly statistics to Paul Kardasz at kardasp@sunwriters.com.

Swimming coaches are asked to email their honor roll candidates to Dee Flowers (dflow50@aol.com) each week by Monday night. If you have no changes, please send her a note saying so.

ATHLETES OF THE WEEK

Beginning Monday, we will take nominations from coaches from noon until 4 p.m. Call (352) 374-5050. Nominations can be made prior to Monday by emailing Larry Savage at larry.savage@gvillesun.com. Please include as much information as possible for what the athlete did the previous week.

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