Posted: 12:56 am Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
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.
Neither team looks a lot like the two squads that met in September, when Park Vista stymied Seminole Ridge 21-7 in an early-season upset. That started an upward trend for Vista, which started 5-0 and a bit of downward spiral for Ridge, which lost its first two games and struggled to find its footing. Two months later, things are very different. Vista squeezed into the playoffs with a win in its final district game, while Ridge won six straight, including a crunch of Palm Beach Gardens en route to a very impressive district title.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8; reserved seating is $9.
How they qualified: Winner, District 9-8A.
Average points per game: 21.7.
Average points allowed per game: 15.7.
Offensive yardage totals: 2,313 (2,114 rush/199 pass)
Offensive stars: RBs EJ Elien, Silas Spearman and Elie Turene.
Defensive stars: DT Kyle Shortridge, DE Jason Shepherd, LB Rayfield Dixon, CB Omar Pierre-Louis, S Mike Almonte.
Defensive yardage totals: 1,559 (694 rush/865 pass)
Best win: 31-21 over Palm Beach Gardens
How they qualified: Runner-up, District 10-8A.
Average points per game: 25.4.
Average points allowed per game: 12.1.
Offensive stars: QB Qwad Martin, RB LeKraig Bens.
Defensive stars: LBs Heath Koji, Chris Ori, S Marques Gayot.
Best win: 21-7 over Seminole Ridge.
PBGametime favorite: Seminole Ridge.
Pinkos’ prediction: Seminole Ridge by 6.
Lazindex favorite: Park Vista.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the first head-to-head result. This will be much closer than a two-touchdown game in either direction. I’m a big proponent of trends, and the movement shows this game tilting toward Seminole Ridge. That’s because the Hawks, particularly on offense, have been ruthlessly efficient lately. The three-pronged rushing attack of Elien, Spearman and Turene has been very effective as the season’s worn on, and having three rushers at that level of ability makes Ridge a tough team to wear down. Defensively Ridge can be passed on, but Vista’s passing game isn’t its strength. Where Ridge could get hurt is turnovers, but more on that later.
The biggest test for Vista will be in the trenches. Coach Brian Dodds has said all season that his line is smaller and more inexperienced than it’s been in a long time. That group has far surpassed expectations, helping turn Vista, at 8-1, into one of the area’s top teams. Qwad Martin and his stable of ball carriers can really do damage with long drives that kill the clock and deflate opponents, just like Ridge does. And with both teams playing that style, this game could potentially feature about eight-to-10 possessions total, making touchdowns an absolute necessity. Though you should bear in mind: Both teams have very good kicking games.
When we talk about limited possessions, the ability to hold onto the ball moves into the forefront of the mind. Both teams have turned the ball over six times since the beginning of October, which is usually when teams have finally hit some kind of rhythm. Using that metric, plus the results (they’re a combined 10-1 over the past six weeks), this game is a virtual tossup, with the home-field advantage tipping the scales slightly toward Ridge. But don’t be surprised by a Vista win, either.