Posted: 9:52 pm Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Playoff Primer 2011: American Heritage, Chaminade-Madonna battle in tough Class 3A field 

By Matt Porter

There are 16 playoff games on Friday involving teams from our area. In the buildup to the games, we’ll break down every matchup.

This region has three of the state’s best Class 3A teams, and two of them face off this week. 

The winner of Chaminade-Madonna—American Heritage will face the winner of University—Cardinal Newman. That’s expected to be undefeated University, the top-ranked school in Class 3A and the only school to beat Chaminade. 

The only school to beat American Heritage was another 10-0 powerhouse, Glades Central. The dossiers for both teams are similar, but American Heritage has the best player in the game – junior running back Greg Bryant – which should give them the edge. 

For this week, anyway. 

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8; reserved seating is $9.

CHAMINADE-MADONNA
Record: 9-1
How they qualified: Runner-up in District 8-3A.
Average points per game: 45.3
Average points allowed per game: 15.3
Offensive yardage totals: 272.7 rush, 194 pass per game.
Offensive stars: RB Cameron Ribgy (1,034 rushing yards, 11 TD), RB Myles Graham (814 yards, 14 TD), WR Fred McRae (430 yards, 7 TD), QB Sean White (61.8 completion percentage, 1,940 yards, 24 TD, 1 INT) 
Defensive yardage totals: 127.8 rush, 109.4 pass per game.
Common opponents with American Heritage:  None.

AMERICAN HERITAGE
Record: 9-1
How they qualified: Winner of District 7-3A.
Average points per game: 39.9
Average points allowed per game: 9.2.
Offensive yardage totals: 258.8 rush, 114.5 pass per game.
Offensive stars: QB Marcus Davis (54% completion percentage, 632 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, 189 yards, 3 TD), RB Greg Bryant (1,366 rushing yards, 16 TD), RB Jeremy Gaskins (1,006 rushing yards, 9 TD).  
Defensive yardage totals: 30 rush, 73.9 pass per game.
Defensive stars: LB Silmore Dallaway, LB Zach Slafsky, DE Mike Wallace, DE Blake Davis.
Common opponents with Chaminade: None.

 
Like Heritage, the Lions use a balanced offense with multiple sets. Sophomore Cameron Rigby and junior Myles Graham are the team’s main weapons out of the backfield. Senior Fred McRae, who also plays corner, is the primary playmaker. Senior tight end Orlando David (6-3, 240) is a matchup problem. Big senior tackles Tim Nicholas (6-4, 270) and James Bobb (6-2, 265) do a great job protecting sophomore quarterback Sean White (6-3, 190), who has responded with a 24-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

In last week’s 68-21 win over Archbishop McCarthy, the Lions’ offense exploded for 723 yards of total offense, demolishing the Broward County record for single-game total offense. White threw for six touchdowns and Rigby threw for three. 

Heritage’s defense, though, is the area’s best among Palm Beach County small schools. They’ve allowed 103.9 yards of total offense per game, including a measly 30 yards on the ground. That’s a credit to everyone from the defensive line – ends Davis (6-5) and Wallace – to the second level and beyond. Linebackers Dallaway and Slafsky have tons of speed and hit hard, while the secondary has numerous athletes in its rotation. 

Chaminade will stack the box to try to stop Heritage’s three-headed rushing attack of Bryant, Gaskins and Davis. Stopping it, though, is something no one has done yet – even in their loss to Glades Central, the three combined for 356 yards, by far the highest total the top-ranked Raiders allowed. Not too many teams have a pair of 1,000-yard backs (Bryant and Gaskins) and a QB who rushed for 947 yards as a sophomore. Heritage has two big tackles of its own in Kelly Parfitt (6-6, 280) and Arthur Crouse (6-5, 275) and center Connor Epstein is one of the area’s best. 

Davis hasn’t had to throw much this year, but has been efficient when called up. He’ll even split out and catch passes from time to time (six catches, 136 receiving yards, 2 TD).  Heritage’s offense is a tornado of quick screens, deep shots, play-action, option running and more, all at a lightning-fast tempo.

Whoever gets out of this round should have a brutal test in the regional finals next week. In this Class 3A region, however, the hardest part is just getting to Orlando. It would be a surprise if the state champion doesn’t come from South Florida. Heritage,  Chaminade and University expect it to be them, and one of them should be correct.

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