Posted: 11:40 pm Monday, November 12th, 2012

Playoff Primer 2012: Village Academy makes its grand debut 

By Jeff Greer

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

I’d quote a Grateful Dead song here (“What a long, strange trip it’s been”), but you guys aren’t reading us for song quotes from the 1960s. But it does make sense here. What a run for this fledgling program in Village Academy, which started in 2005. This was the goal: A playoff spot and a chance to compete with the Dade Christians and Glades Days of the world. Well, here it is. Can the Tigers step up to the plate?

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

VILLAGE ACADEMY
Record: 4-5.
How they qualified: Runner-up, District 7-2A.
Average points per game: 26.1.
Average points allowed per game: 21.3.
Offensive yardage totals: 2,604 (1,192 rush/1,412 pass).
Offensive stars: QB Larry Brihm (small schools leading passer), WR Tre’Quan Smith (small schools leading receiver)
Best win: 41-8 over Highlands Christian.

DADE CHRISTIAN
Record: 9-0.
How they qualified: Winner, District 8-2A.
Average points per game: 33.
Average points allowed per game: 10.
Best win: 14-13 over Reagan.

PBGametime favorite: Dade Christian.
Pinkos’ prediction: Dade Christian by 10.
Lazindex favorite: Dade Christian.

One of the biggest challenges for Village Academy, week in and week out, is stopping the run. The Tigers simply don’t have the bodies or the size to keep up with a hard-charging running team that grinds out yardage and keeps Village’s best offensive players on the field for defense. That’s one of the toughest parts about being a small school. When you have a small roster, you’re going to have gassed players. Therein lies the problem for Village: Its offense is built to score — quickly — and it’s defense doesn’t get much rest. So as great as the scoring is, the defense just can’t keep up. A lot of small schools have that problem, not just Village, but the ones that’ve reached Dade Christian’s level have the experience to work through it. That’s what Village must do for its next step.

In fairness, Village has done a great job scheduling, and has tested itself against very good teams. Four of the Tigers’ five losses came against playoff teams, and two of them are state-ranked. The preseason kickoff classic against Palm Beach Central, probably the best 8A team in the area, yielded 44 points for Village’s offense in a 68-44 loss. So that tells us two things: One, Village can play with anyone. And two, the Tigers have a great shot to upset Dade Christian, a team that runs the ball well but hasn’t been given a serious challenge since the last week of September.