Posted: 3:02 pm Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Playoff Primer 2010: Palm Bay can’t look past Martin County 

By Matt Porter

Let’s head to Melbourne, where Martin County will take on Palm Bay in a Class 4A showdown.


martincountyhelmetMARTIN COUNTY
Record: 8-2

How they qualified: Second, District 14-4A
Average points per game: 24.5

Average points allowed per game: 14.2

Offense: 8th, large schools; 2,473 yards gained (1,657 rush, 816 pass)

Defense: 11th, large schools; 1,741 yards allowed (1,204 rush, 537 pass)

Offensive standouts: RB Dan Hubbard (54 carries, 544 yards, 5 TD); QB Dan Hudzina (47.8 completion percentage, 843 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT); RB Treyvon Johnson (89 carries, 417 yards, 9 TD).

Defensive standouts: LB Ryan Gilbert (94 tackles, 10 for loss); LB Matt Diekman (86 tackles, 16 for loss, 9 sacks).
Common opponents with Palm Bay: None.

palmbayhelmetPALM BAY
Record: 9-0

How they qualified: District 13-4A champions (three teams); beat New Smyrna Beach Oct. 22 for title.

Average points per game: 30.0

Average points allowed per game: 8.1

Offense: 1,398 yards gained (572 rush, 826 pass)

Offensive standouts: QB Stephen Hughes (709 passing yards, 53.2 completion percentage, 8 TD, 1 INT); RB Leroy Berry (59 carries, 422 yards).

Common opponents with Martin County: None.

Area teams played: Beat Treasure Coast 14-3; beat Port St. Lucie 45-21; beat Palm Beach Lakes 31-0 (kickoff classic). 

Palm Bay is probably best known in this area for beating top-ranked Dwyer in the teams’ May 21 spring game. Obviously, the Pirates want to see Dwyer again, and they would if both teams get to the Class 4A regional finals.

But, first things first.

Martin County has its second eight-win season in the last 18 years but has not won a playoff game since 1991. If they want to get over the hump, it’ll be their defense that does the job.

Senior linebacker Matt Diekman (16 tackles for loss, 9 sacks) has been outstanding, and teammates Ryan Gilbert (94 tackles), Joey Pessolano (89), Austin Mobley (80) and Justin Simmons (6 interceptions) have been a big reason why the Tigers have held opponents to just over two touchdowns a game.

Palm Bay running back Leroy Berry, who had 155 yards on 20 carries against Dwyer in the teams’ May 21 spring game, is the focal point of the Pirates’ offense. Quarterback Steven Hughes averages 177.3 yards passing per game, and is quite efficient (8 touchdowns, 1 interception).