Posted: 6:53 am Monday, November 10th, 2008
By Jason Lieser
There will be no tie-breakers in the area this season — we had four last year — meaning the local playoff field is solidified. Palm Beach County will send 13 teams to the post-season, our Treasure Coast coverage area has three representatives and Clewiston reached the playoffs from Hendry County. Those 17 teams begin their quest for a state championship Nov. 21.
An interesting note: of the 17 playoff teams, five have a coach in their first year with the team.
The first-round matchups are nearly settled, pending a few out-of-area district results and potential tie-breakers, and second-round hosting scenarios can be determined already. A district winner always hosts a district runner-up. Hosting for any potential games between two district winners is detailed below.
Here is a class-by-class look at area playoff games:
Vero Beach (District 7 winner) hosts Park Vista (District 8 runner-up)
Notes: The Cobras beat Vero Beach 14-7 in last year’s regional semifinals, thanks to a fourth-quarter, 17-yard touchdown run by then-quarterback Eddie Sullivan. Both teams love to run the ball. Vero Beach is rushing for 224 yards per game, and Park Vista averages 251.7.
Royal Palm Beach (District 8 winner) hosts Palm Beach Lakes (District 7 runner-up)
Notes: Oddly enough, these two have a regular season game at Dick Melear Stadium on Friday, then square off in a rematch for the first round of the playoffs. The Rams return to the post-season for the first time since 2005, and Royal Palm Beach is back after a one-year absence. Their common opponents this year were Seminole Ridge, Lake Worth, Dwyer and Palm Beach Gardens. Both the Rams and Wildcats lost to Dwyer and beat the other three teams on that list.
2nd Round Scenarios:
If Vero Beach and Royal Palm advance, the game is at Vero Beach.
If Park Vista and Palm Beach Lakes advance, the game is at Park Vista.
Atlantic (District 14 winner) hosts Bayside (District 13 runner-up)
Notes: The Eagles likely will finish the regular season 10-0, and have not missed the playoffs this decade. Bayside has no common opponents with Atlantic, but did beat local teams Centennial and Port St. Lucie during the season.
Palm Bay (District 13 winner) hosts South Fork (District 14 runner-up)
Notes: Last year, these roles were revered, with South Fork winning District 14 and Palm Bay the wild card from District 13. Palm Bay routed South Fork 31-8 in the first round of the playoffs. The Pirates beat area teams Fort Pierce Central, Port St. Lucie and Centennial this year, but South Fork did not play any of those teams.
2nd Round Scenarios:
If Atlantic and Palm Bay advance, the game is at Atlantic.
If Bayside and South Fork advance, the game is at Bayside.
Dwyer (District 14 winner) hosts Okeechobee (District 13 runner-up)
Notes: Panthers coach Jack Daniels summed this one up nicely: “Lonnie Pryor, Lonnie Pryor, Lonnie Pryor.” Okeechobee’s defense will be susceptible to Dwyer’s multi-pronged offensive attack, but Pryor is the equalizer if he can breakthrough against the Panthers’ defense. That won’t be easy, considering Dwyer is giving up 72.7 rushing yards per game. In last year’s first-round battle, Pryor staked the Brahmans to a 7-0 lead on a 25-yard scoring run in the first quarter. Dwyer outscored Okeechobee 30-10 the rest of the way and Pryor managed a total of 88 yards rushing. Donald Russell and Bradley Wallace topped 100 yards on the ground for the Panthers that night.
Fort Pierce Westwood (District 13 winner) hosts Boca Raton (District 14 runner-up)
Notes: Fort Pierce Westwood suffered a first-round knockout to West Boca Raton last year, 27-7. Boca Raton is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Bobcats had the No. 3 passing offense in the area entering last week’s games, and the Panthers were fifth in total offense.
2nd Round Scenarios:
If Dwyer and Fort Pierce Westwood advance, the game is at Fort Pierce Westwood.
If Okeechobee and Boca Raton advance, the game is at Boca Raton.
Glades Central (District 15 winner) hosts Belen Jesuit (District 16 runner-up)
Notes: Through eight games, the Raiders gained more yardage and allowed less yardage than any other big school in the area, leading to a 9-0 record. They draw Belen Jesuit after it won a three-way tie-breaker with Key West and Edison. The Raiders whacked Belen Jesuit 41-7 last year and 56-0 in 2006. There is much more intrigue in the second round, where Glades Central would face the winner of Monsignor Pace vs. Cardinal Gibbons. Last year, in Belle Glade, the Raiders beat Pace 8-6 on a late field goal.
2nd Round Scenario:
If Glades Central and Monsignor Pace advance, the game is at Monsignor Pace.
Clewiston (District 6 winner) hosts Mulberry (District 5 runner-up)
Notes: The Tigers have never lost in their current district and captured the crown again this year. Clewiston looked substantially better this season, improving its overall record from 4-6 to 7-2 (last game is against Okeechobee at Cane Field). The Tigers have advanced past the first round each of the last three seasons. They lost at home to eventual state runner-up Tampa Catholic in the second round last year.
Tampa Catholic (District 5 winner) hosts Inlet Grove (District 6 runner-up)
Notes: The Hurricanes know Tampa Catholic very well after the Crusaders bounced them in the first round last season. Inlet Grove quarterback Terry Bradden is a year older and a year better. Through eight games, he completed nearly 56 percent of his attempts for an area-best 1,910 yards, and had 18 touchdown passes.
2nd Round Scenarios:
If Clewiston and Tampa Catholic advance, the game is at Tampa Catholic.
If Inlet Grove and Mulberry advance, the game is at Inlet Grove.
Pahokee (District 7 winner) hosts Parkway Academy (District 8 runner-up)
Notes: Pahokee won at Parkway, 35-14 in 2005. The last two teams to visit the Blue Devils in the first round lost by a combined score of 134-0. Pahokee drew King’s Academy in the second round each of the last three years, and won all three by a total of 81 points.
University-Fort. Lauderdale (District 8 winner) hosts King’s Academy (District 7 runner-up)
Notes: King’s Academy has not been challenged in the first round either of the last two seasons. The Lions have allowed fewer points (86) than any other small school in the area.
2nd Round Scenarios:
If Pahokee and University advance, the game is at Pahokee.
If King’s Academy and Parkway Academy advance, the game is at Parkway Academy.
Glades Day (District 6 winner) hosts Indian Rocks Christian (District 5 runner-up)
Notes: The Gators are two years removed from their last state championship. They reached the state semifinals last year, but lost at home to eventual champion American Heritage. Glades Day pummeled Indian Rocks Christian 47-7 in the first round last season. If the Gators win again, they face the winner of Fort Meade vs. Evangelical Christian. Glades Day beat Evangelical Christian 43-36 in Week 6 this season, and beat Fort Meade in the regional finals last year, 23-21.
American Heritage (District 7 winner) hosts Palmer Trinity (District 8 runner-up)
Notes: Perhaps Darius Milines’ broken thumb wasn’t such a bad thing for the Stallions. The move sidelined Milines for a few weeks, allowing sophomore Billy Strode to step into the starting job. Strode has been solid, throwing nine touchdowns and two interceptions. The Stallions breezed through the playoffs without being tested much last year, until their 31-28 win in the title game.
3rd Round Scenario:
If Glades Day and American Heritage meet in the state semifinals, the game is at American Heritage.
Jupiter Christian (District 7 winner) hosts Hollywood Christian (District 8 winner)
Notes: Jupiter Christian is 3-0 all-time in the first round of the Class 1B playoffs. The Eagles are averaging 52.2 points per game this season, and giving up 15.4. On its way to a state championship last season, Jupiter Christian blasted Hollywood Christian 47-13 in the regional finals. They played in the first round of the two previous post-seasons as well, with the Eagles winning 41-0 in 2006 and 23-19 in 2005. If Jupiter Christian wins again, it faces the winner of Upperroom Christian vs. Sheridan Hills. The Eagles would be home against Upperroom Christian (a team they just beat 52-12 on Saturday), but would travel to Sheridan Hills. If Jupiter Christian reaches the state semifinals, it would be at home.