JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Raines vs. Cocoa Part II. Same two teams. Same Stadium.
On Dec. 7, 2017 the Vikings won the Class 4A title by beating the Tigers 13-10. Almost a year to the day later the two schools will once again meet for the Class 4A title this Thursday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
“It’s so huge I can’t even explain it,” said Raines head coach Deran Wiley on Tuesday. “To get a chance to be back here again with the opportunity to win it. To have a chance to be back-to-back state champions. I can’t put that into words. It’s a surreal moment. But I’m not going to get caught in the moment. We’re going to live in the moment. We’re going for the jugular. We want it. Trust me. We want it.”
It should come as no surprise that Raines and Cocoa are meeting again in the state title game. This is the fourth straight year that either school has reached the Class 4A final.
We're heading toward a REMATCH! Only 5 days until @RainesVikings & @CocoaFootball go head to head again in the #FHSAA Football State Championships! Will the vikings defend their title? #LetsGo #DriveToDecember pic.twitter.com/qiOV5dIQnN— FHSAA (@FHSAA) December 1, 2018
Raines has essentially had a cakewalk back to Orlando. In three playoff games they’ve outscored their opponents 137-9. Last year’s title was decided by only three points and Wiley has spent this week getting his team mentally prepared for a dogfight.
“It’s all in how we prepare and how we practice,” said Wiley. “We talk about those moments every day. You can’t go into a game expecting it to be close or expecting it to be a blowout. You have to go in there and prepare for all situations. We’ve been doing a great job of that here. This game will come down to the team that can focus and make plays down the stretch.”
Raines is looking for its third state title in school history (1997 and 2017). The Vikings are already the only Duval County public school to ever win a state championship in football.
Wiley and his Vikings are also the first Duval County School since Wolfson in 1967 and 1968 to play for a state title in back to back seasons.