Posted: 12:30 pm Friday, December 10th, 2010
By Jeff Greer
Rolled into the Citrus Bowl here in Orlando around 11 a.m. Walked past the Glades Day Traveling Army, which was armed with signs and visible excitement.
Familiar territory. Glades Day traveled up yesterday and stayed at a hotel. The Gators are certainly in familiar territory, playing in their second consecutive state title game and third in five years. Warner Christian is playing in its third consecutive state final. The Eagles lost in 2008 and 2009.
Cold start. It’s a little chilly here, Weather.com says it’s 62. It’s estimated to be up to 65 by game time.
The guy to watch in particular is quarterback Tanner Redish. Redish, who is coming off a broken collarbone, said last Saturday that the cold bothered him “a little bit” during his team’s 45-27 semifinal win over Lakeland-Victory Christian. He seemed fine in the game, throwing for two touchdown passes (of 66 and 40 yards, no less). He was 4 of 7 for 126 yards. And he looks sharp in warmups.
Expecting a shootout. Warner Christian coach Andy Price admitted that his team would have trouble stopping Glades Day running back Kelvin Taylor. Instead, he wants his team to control the clock, own the time of possession and simply outscore the Gators.
“You’re not gonna stop a guy like that,” Price said. “They’ve got a good enough offensive line. We need to limit the big play. What we’re focusing on is the offensive side of the ball for us — controlling the line of scrimmage, controlling the clock. They’ve given up some points this year. We’re hoping we can score some points. We need to move the chains, stay ahead of the downs.”
Glades Day coach Pete Walker argued that his team is fully prepared defensively, saying that Warner Christian’s offensive schemes are very similar to the ones the Eagles ran in last year’s final, which Glades Day won 27-20 in overtime.
“Seems like they’re running a lot of things similar to what we do this year,” Walker said, “a little bit more than they did a year ago. A little more wing-T, spread it out a little more. They’re very well coached. (Running backs Marcus Dixon and Breon Allen) put on a little muscle mass.”
J.T. Thornton is dressed. There was a chance defensive back J.T. Thornton (No. 27 on the Big Board, committed to Illinois) might play this week. Thornton (broken fibula) said before last week’s semifinal that he was ready to play, but doctors hadn’t cleared him. His boot has been removed and he is working out with his team in pregame warmups.
Walker said “there’s always a chance” that Thornton could be cleared for the final. Thornton had a checkup with doctors this week. He was running with a slight limp during warmups.
Thornton had the game-clinching interception in last year’s final.
Where to watch. Here’s the broadcast schedule and listings for this weekend’s games.