Posted: 4:36 pm Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Playoff Primer 2011: Martin County faces tough challenge in Punta Gorda-Charlotte 

By Jeff Greer

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 is a serious, serious challenge for Martin County on the road in Punta Gorda. Charlotte’s only loss is a one-point 21-20 decision at Venice, which is the No. 9 team in Class 7A. Of course, Martin County has played a very tough schedule to prepare for the postseason. The Tigers played four playoff teams, and three away on the road. They played at South Fork, at Vero Beach (ranked eighth in 8A) and at Plantation-American Heritage (No. 7 in 5A) and hosted Fort Pierce Central in a district game.

In those games, Martin County was 1-3, with the one win coming at rival South Fork. But the experience has to help. If you compare Lazindex ratings, Charlotte fits right in with the profiles of the three teams that beat Martin County. Fort Pierce Central, Vero and Plantation-American Heritage each gashed Martin County, and the Tigers committed multiple turnovers in those games. That can’t happen on the road, especially against a very good Charlotte team.

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

MARTIN COUNTY AT PUNTA GORDA-CHARLOTTE

MARTIN COUNTY
Record: 7-3
How they qualified: Runner-up of District 12-7A.
Average points per game: 26.
Average points allowed per game: 16.6.
Offensive yardage totals: 168.2 rush, 82 pass per game.
Offensive stars: RB Reshawd Fyne (658 rushing yards, 5 TDs), WR/S Justin Simmons (423 receiving yards, 277 rushing yards, 7 TDs, 71 tackles, 4 INTs).
Defensive stars: S Treyvon Johnson (4 INTs).
Common opponents with Charlotte: None.

PUNTA GORDA-CHARLOTTE
Record: 9-1
How they qualified: Winner of District 11-7A.
Average points per game: 38.7.
Average points allowed per game: 9.8.
Offensive yardage totals: 228.6 rush, 91.8 pass per game.
Offensive stars: RB Clyde Newton (887 rushing yards, 11 TDs), RB Jordan Washington (712 rushing yards, 7 TDs)
Common opponents with Martin County: None.

What you need to know about Charlotte starts with Newman and Washington. These kids can play. They are the 1-2 punch that has Charlotte in the playoffs and sitting pretty at 9-1 with a home playoff game. Charlotte can light up the scoreboard, and the Tarpons will do it on the ground. Any passing threat is designed to set up the run for Newton and Washington. Martin County’s rush defense can be leaky at times, as evidenced by the 166 rushing yards a game the Tigers allow. That plays right into Charlotte’s hands.

But Martin County does have several big playmakers who can turn a game. Boston College commit Justin Simmons plays multiple positions and can break out at any time. Treyvon Johnson is a ballhawk and shares the secondary with the 6-foot-3 Simmons. Those two, plus Reshawd Fyne, will be asked to make several key plays to stay in this game and make it a contest. But like I said above, Martin County cannot turn the ball over as frequently as it did in its three losses against teams similar to Charlotte (in terms of talent). Turnovers have been a bugaboo all year for Martin County, and now that the playoffs are here, that has to stop.