Posted: 3:11 pm Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Playoff Primer 2010: Will Fort Pierce Central’s experience trump New Smyrna Beach’s speed? 

By Matt Porter

Next up in our playoff preview series: It’s Cudas vs. Cobras, as New Smyrna Beach plays Fort Pierce Central in a Class 4A showdown played at Port St. Lucie High School.

BY THE NUMBERS

newsmyrnabeachhelmetNEW SMYRNA BEACH
Record: 5-5

How they qualified: Second, District 13-4A; beat Viera 42-19 on Nov. 5.

Average points per game: 26.1

Average points allowed per game: 22.6

Offense: 1,754 yards gained (661 rush, 1,053 pass)

Offensive standouts: RB/WR Raheem Mostert (5-11, 185, 443 yards on 23 catches); WR/RB Telvin Hooks (61 carries, 443 yards).

Defensive standouts: LB Steven Jackson; S Jeff Schofield; NT Jamar McRae.

Common opponents with Fort Pierce Central: None.

Area teams played: None.



ftpiercecentralhelmetFORT PIERCE CENTRAL
Record: 8-1

How they qualified: District 14-4A champions.

Average points per game: 24.0

Average points allowed per game: 12.1

Offense: 14th, large schools; 2,041 yards gained (1,212 rush, 829 pass)

Defense: 2nd, large schools; 1,309 yards allowed (801 rush, 508 pass)

Offensive standouts: RB Marcus Levy; QB
Marcus Sigmon (69.2 completion percentage, 12 TD, more than 1,000 yards in 9 games); WR Keion Williams (24 catches, 376 yards).

Defensive standouts: DE Giorgio Newberry (FSU commit, Super 11 selection); ILB Brian Lenhart (6-0, 205, more than 100 tackles in 9 games); S Chris Williams (6-0, 175). 

Common opponents with New Smyrna Beach: None.

First-year New Smyrna Beach coach Bruce Jenkins told the Orlando Sentinel in the spring he thought his team could be anywhere from “average to awesome,” and the results have been somewhere in between.

The Barracudas’ biggest asset is team speed. In August, Jenkins told the Orlando Sentinel he had 10 players who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds or less. The fastest, and best, of those is senior running back/receiver Raheem Mostert (4.32, on a track). He and senior receiver Telvin Hooks both participated at the same UF Friday Night Lights summer camp attended by Dwyer’s Nick O’Leary and other top prospects.

Bruising fullback Stephen Jackson and wideout Sampson McRae have played well. The ‘Cudas have rotated quarterbacks, with Sean Washington and Evan Schroeder combining for 1,053 passing yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

New Smyrna Beach will run a variety of looks on offense, but the Cobras believe they’re ready for anything. “We have to prepare for everything,” coach Chris Hutchings said. “We’ve been playing pretty well defensively all year, against everything from Wing-T to option to spread.”

Hutchings said he sees an athletic team with a strong linebacking corps and secondary. Seniors linebackers Jeff Schofield and Josh Knutson are the leaders, and sophomore defensive lineman Duke Welch has shown promise.

The ‘Cudas aren’t deep or experienced on the offensive and defensive lines, but they have plenty of speed and skill.

“That jumped out at me, how athletic they are,” Hutchings said.

For Central, defensive end Giorgio Newberry, an All-American and Florida State commit, gets much of the attention, and with good reason. He’s a 6-5, 265-pound monster who moves incredibly well for a big guy. He’s not the only one to worry about, though.

The Cobras’ senior-heavy defense is led by inside linebacker Brian Lenhart, who leads the Treasure Coast in tackles with well over 100. Senior cornerbacks Keion Williams and Chris Fair and senior safety Chris Wallace bring a disruptive style.

“We don’t give up many plays on the deep ball,” Hutchings said.

Early in the season, Hutchings said he had to rotate “five or six” tailbacks because of injury. But he’s found a balance now, with Rodney Mathieu and Marcus Levy splitting carries. They’ve been well protected from a strong offensive line. “The offensive line is where we’re doing a good job,” Hutchings said. “It all starts with the offensive and defensive lines, and I think right now we’re playing well up front.”

Quarterback Marcus Sigmon has weapons in Williams, a slot receiver, and 6-4, 205-pound deep threat Niko Guevera.

One of the keys for Central has been its ability to get the ball back. In last week’s loss to Fort Pierce Westwood, Hutchings said, the Cobras had more than four strips, and a couple interceptions dropped. “The ball was on the ground a lot,” he said. “I feel like the reason we didn’t win that game was because we didn’t scoop up as many of those as we usually do.”

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