Posted: 8:44 pm Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Playoff Primer 2010: Jupiter Christian enters playoffs as a favorite 

By Jeff Greer

There are 18 playoff games across every class involving teams from our area. This week, Matt and I will break down every matchup.

Next up is Jupiter Christian, a team with a fantastic shot at winning the Class 1B title. The Eagles get Highlands Christian, an 8-2 club from Pompano Beach, to start their run. Let’s discuss how Jupiter Christian can start off on the right foot.

Jupiter Christian strung together some of the best offensive performances of any team in the state this year, racking up all kinds of ridiculous statistics. Highlands Christian comes into the playoffs on a five-game winning streak. Get your popcorn ready. Kickoff is set for 7:30 at South Fork High School in Stuart. Admission is $7.

BY THE NUMBERS

jupiterchristianhelmetJUPITER CHRISTIAN
Record: 9-1
How they qualified: Won District 7-1B
Average points per game: 46.0
Average points allowed per game: 19.6
Offensive yardage totals: 4,392 (3,077 rushing, 1,315 passing)
Offensive stars: RB Trey Pendergrass (1,656 rushing yards, 24 touchdowns), QB Keddy Bostic (1,116 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, 1 interception, WR Austin Talbott (486 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns), WR Josh Talbott (418 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns)
Defensive stars: LB Ryan Powers (120 tackles, 4 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions), DB Josh Talbott (13 pass breakups, 4 interceptions)
Common opponents with Highlands Christian: None.

highlandschristianHIGHLANDS CHRISTIAN
Record: 8-2
How they qualified: District 8-1B runner-up to Florida City-Barrington Christian
Average points per game: 26.1
Average points allowed per game: 13.1
Offensive yardage totals: 2,380 (797 rushing, 1,583 passing)
Offensive stars: QB Michael Gray (1,572 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 48.2% completion percentage, TE Gabe Hantsberger (50 receptions, 731 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns), RB Randy Hage (411 rushing yards, 4 touchdowns)
Defensive stars: FS Logan Cole (leads a pass defense that has only allowed 64.9 passing yards and a 40.7% completion rate per game)
How they fared vs. area opponents: Defeated Boca Christian 14-0.

Jupiter Christian doesn’t play like a 1B team. That much we know. There’s talent at every position, the Eagles can score points in bunches and they aren’t too shabby on defense, either. Maybe the biggest obstacle that Jupiter Christian faces is itself. With a potential rematch against District 7-1B archrival Glades Day looming in the shadows, there’s a tiny, tiny sliver of a chance that maybe the Eagles’ opening-round game against Highlands Christian will be closer than anticipated.

It’s hard to buy that, though.

With one of the best running backs in the area in Trey Pendergrass, a quarterback in Keddy Bostic who just doesn’t make mistakes and a disciplined approach to both sides of the ball, Jupiter Christian is armed and very, very dangerous.

The problem that Highlands Christian has is that it’s not built to meet a multi-faceted offense like Jupiter Christian. The Eagles are just as likely to hand the ball off as they are to throw it, and they do them both extremely well. Highlands Christian plays a lot of zone and Cover 2, meaning there’s a lot of room to run. That sounds you hear is Pendergrass licking his chops.

If Highlands Christian doesn’t change its approach or figure out a way to stop the run with only six guys in the box, this will be a tough, tough game for the Knights to win.

“I think we’ll be able to move the ball on them,” Jupiter Christian coach Bill Powers said.

On defense, Jupiter Christian will key in on Gabe Hantsberger, a 6-foot-3 tight end. Highlands Christian runs a spread offense and likes to throw the ball more than run. Powers said his team’s top priority is getting after quarterback Michael Gray, who has connected on 50 of his 111 completions with Hantsberger.

“Their QB throws the ball pretty good and they’ve got some good receivers,” Powers said. “If they have enough time with the football, they can be dangerous. We need to hit him a little to knock him off his game.”

But Powers returned to the main goal his team’s first playoff game: staying focused.

“(Highlands Christian) looks good on film,” Powers said, “but it’s always hard to tell. We’re going look at it that we have to play hard. If we play hard, we can win the game.”

For the prediction of this and every first-round playoff game, click here.