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High school football 2020: Local matchups headline Class 5A-8A playoff games this week

Oakleaf quarterback Walter Simmons III scrambles for yards in the second quarter against Bartram Trail on Oct. 23, 2020.
Oakleaf quarterback Walter Simmons III scrambles for yards in the second quarter against Bartram Trail on Oct. 23, 2020. (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s officially the third week of the high school football playoffs and the area has 28 teams still in contention for a state championship. The bulk of those teams (18) are in Classes 5A-8A, which we take a look at below. Classes 1A-4A were published Tuesday. All games this week are Friday at 7:30 p.m. unless indicated. Schedule and times subject to change.

Region 1-8A

Oakleaf (7-3) at Bartram Trail (8-1)

Road here: Oakleaf d. Nease by forfeit; Bartram Trail was on a bye.

Winner gets: The winner would travel to face the West Port/Spruce Creek winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: The best matchup in the area this week and a rematch of an Oct. 23 game won in a 30-27 classic by the Bears on a 54-yard field goal by David Kemp. The Knights were off last week due to a forfeit but they were in control most of the game against Bartram before the Bears caught up. What did both of those teams take out of that game, and what changes do they make? Oakleaf QB Walter Simmons III is in the conversation as the area’s top QB in 2020. He’s passed for 1,675 yards and 19 TDs and rushed for 452 and 8. The Knights are bolstered out of the backfield by RB Adrian Grey, who rushed for 154 yards and a TD against the Bears. He’s averaging 8.1 ypc this season (1,050 yards, 7 TDs). WRs Cobie Bates (603 receiving yards, 7 TDs) and Terrance Anthony (855 yards, 10 TDs) are a tough duo to account for. Bartram has a very potent offense, too. QB Santino Marucci (1,063 passing yards, 13 TDs) and RB AJ Jones III (708 rushing yards, 8 TDs) are the threats behind the line of scrimmage, and Jones doubles as the Bears' second-best pass-catching threat. Eric Weatherly (522 receiving yards, 4 TDs) has 3 special teams TDs. LB Dylan Chiedo is closing in on a 100-tackle season (94) and S/LB Micah Pollard is getting better by the week. He has 5 sacks in his last 4 games and completely changed things at the line of scrimmage against Raines.

Flagler Palm Coast (4-3) at Sandalwood (7-2), 6 p.m.

Road here: FPC was on a bye; Sandalwood d. Mandarin, 28-13.

Winner gets: The FPC/Sandalwood winner would host the DeLand/Seminole winner in the regional semifinal on Nov. 27.

Glance: A clash between former district opponents and it should be a good one. FPC has a very high quality win on its resume, a 15-14 victory over Class 1A monster Madison County. FPC has had some issues scoring this season, failing to eclipse 16 points in four of its seven games. QB Chris Calhoun was very good on the ground in a Monday night win over Mandarin, but it was the defense of the Saints that did the heavy lifting. The Saints come from all over the place. LB Branden Jennings gets the headlines, but Sandalwood is potent from all angles. LB Langston Hardy, DE Deante McCray, DL J’Quan Hicks and DE Sayvion Blount are a wrecking crew. ATH Jadon Canady may be the best dual-threat player in town. Canady not only had a 50-yard punt return TD against Mandarin, but added a pair of picks, including one he took back for six. Canady also has 5 receiving TDs. Expect this one to be all defense. FPC is holding teams to 15 points a game; Sandalwood is keeping teams to 17.3 an outing.

Region 1-7A

Fleming Island (7-2) at Tallahassee Chiles (1-5)

Road here: Fleming d. Tate, 21-0; Chiles was on a bye.

Winner gets: Fleming Island would host the Tallahassee Lincoln/Atlantic Coast winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: The Golden Eagles have a solid backfield-by-committee approach, but it was all defense last week. Not only did Fleming pitch its first shutout of the season, but it scored twice on defense and had 4 takeaways. LB Alex Maier had a fumble recovery in the end zone for a TD and returned an interception for a TD. Fleming isn’t going to light up the scoreboard and throw for 350 yards a game, but it will wear defenses out with its battery of RBs in TK Kocak, Timothy Thomas and Sam Singleton and smother teams defensively. Fleming is 1-1 all-time in the playoffs against Tallahassee-area teams and should be heavily favored here even on the road.

Tallahassee Lincoln (6-1) at Atlantic Coast (4-5)

Road here: Lincoln d. First Coast, 42-8; Atlantic Coast d. Fletcher, 47-21.

Winner gets: Atlantic Coast would travel to face the Fleming Island/Chiles winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: What a showing by the Stingrays last week. Atlantic Coast put up its highest point total in a game since dropping 58 on Wolfson in 2014. And they did it against a strong Fletcher team that had beaten them this season already (24-14). There were season-bests all over the place. QB Ridge Jacobs had his best game of the season (219 passing yards, 2 TDs) and RB Arthur Walker rushed for 133 yards and 3 TDs. The defense smothered Fletcher. S Jahiem Odom (12 tackles, sack) and S Bruno Aleves (9 tackles, INT) led the way for Atlantic Coast to slow down a very strong rushing attack. Definitely the signature win in Atlantic Coast’s history. Can the Stingrays keep it going against a perennial playoff team in Lincoln?

Region 1-6A

Lee (6-1) at Pensacola Pace (4-3)

Road here: Lee d. Fort Walton Beach, 41-6; Pace d. Booker T. Washington, 24-20.

Winner gets: Lee would travel to face the Escambia/St. Augustine winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: Long road trip for the Generals out to the Panhandle, a spot where their season ended at last year (Escambia). Lee is 3-0 in second round playoff games under coach OJ Small and has a very good shot to return with a victory. RB Dayon Rawls rushed for 120 yards and a pair of TDs in the playoff opener, but it was the defense that choked out Fort Walton Beach. CB Jaheim Singletary, a player that QBs tend to shy away from, had a pick. DL Jai Robinson (11 tackles, sack) and LB Elijah Harris (2 forced fumbles, fumble recovery, sack) led the way on a night where Lee forced 5 turnovers.

Pensacola Escambia (8-0) at St. Augustine (7-2)

Road here: Escambia d. Middleburg, 44-0; St. Augustine d. Mosely, 38-24.

Winner gets: St. Augustine would host the Lee/Pace winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: The Yellow Jackets trailed at halftime in their playoff opener before erupting in the second half and pitching a shutout defensively. QB Sam Edwards passed for 170 yards and a pair of TDs and Ty Baxter rushed for 155 yards in that win, the bulk of that damage coming after the break. St. Augustine only went past the second round three times in the 2010s after going 8 times in the 2000s. The Yellow Jackets are 12-11 all-time in the playoffs against teams from the Panhandle. Escambia beat the Yellow Jackets in the 2018 postseason opener. The Gators are road warriors in the playoffs. Last week, they logged more than 720 miles in going to and from Middleburg. This week, it’s a 397-mile, one-way drive to St. Augustine.

Daytona Beach Seabreeze (4-4) at Columbia (3-5)

Road here: Seabreeze d. Gulf Breeze, 21-20; Columbia d. Englewood, 41-7; d. Ponte Vedra, 14-0.

Winner gets: Columbia would host the Mainland/Matanzas winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: A season that began miserably has gotten back on track in a hurry. The Tigers have won three in a row after a woeful start. Dual-threat QB Marcus Peterson, a converted receiver, passed for 124 yards and a TD last week and rushed for 62 more. But it was special teams and defense that sparked a win last week over a struggling Ponte Vedra. Columbia had 7 sacks, a pair of picks and a kickoff returned for a TD by Tray Tolliver. He also caught a TD. As the competition improves week to week, Columbia will have to carve out more offense to keep pace or hope that it can keep the scores low defensively.

Daytona Beach Mainland (7-1) at Matanzas (6-3)

Road here: Mainland d. Gainesville, 24-21; Matanzas d. New Smynra Beach, 7-6.

Winner gets: Matanzas would travel to face the Seabreeze/Columbia winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: The Pirates hadn’t scored a point or won a game in their two previous playoff trips and buried those streaks last week. Matanzas was sharp on defense in its win over NSB and used a lone TD, a 65-yard catch by Noah Cundiff to stay in front for good. Can they do it against a more challenging opponent in the Buccaneers, a squad that shut area power Bolles down in the regular season finale?

Region 1-5A

Tallahassee Godby (4-3) at Ribault (2-6), 6 p.m.

Road here: Godby d. Paxon, 64-0; Ribault d. Choctawhatchee, 38-33.

Winner gets: Ribault would travel to face the Rickards/West Florida winner in the regional finals on Nov. 27.

Glance: The Trojans were in games throughout the season that they couldn’t find a way to win. But on the road in their playoff opener under first-year head coach Marlon White, Ribault did just that. The competition level jumps considerably this week. Choctaw was winless and Godby is a perennial playoff program. QB Santana Jackson, RB Martranius Mack, WR Freddie Manning III and Co. will have to get in the end zone to keep pace with the Cougars, who demolished Paxon in rushing for nearly 500 yards last week.

Baker County (7-2) at Raines (4-6), 7 p.m.

Road here: Baker County won by forfeit over Arnold; Raines d. Westside, 28-20.

Winner gets: The winner would travel to face the winner of the Suwannee/Pine Forest game in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: A solid postseason matchup. The Vikings fended off Westside last week and have shown quite a bit of improvement the second half of the season. Raines DB Kyree Hammond is a takeaway magnet and had a pick last week. QB Carleton Butler Jr. is more of a threat with his legs than most area QBs. RB Kareem Burke is a home run threat out of the backfield. The Vikings are strong on the defensive front, which will be a featured matchup against a tough Baker County offensive line. The Wildcats are much better running the football with their battery of weapons. QB Carson Crawford (714 rushing yards), and RBs Scooby Graham (714 yards, 9 TDs), Cam Smith (521 yards, 6 TDs) and Jamarian Baker (472 yards, 8 TDs) provide a steady assortment of fresh legs for Baker County.

Suwannee (8-2) at Pensacola Pine Forest (3-4)

Road here: Suwannee d. Parker, 14-7; Pine Forest d. Wakulla, 28-21.

Winner gets: Suwannee would host the Raines/Baker County winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: After barreling through the end of the regular season, it took a near 100-yard pick six from Javarion Smith to extinguish a tough, but two-win Parker team last week. Can the Bulldogs shake off that rust and get a win in the Panhandle? They are 4-1 all-time in the postseason against Pace. QB Jaquez Moore is 5 rushing yards shy of a 1,000-yard season.

Region 2-5A

Menendez (4-5) at Orange Park (4-5)

Road here: Menendez d. Mount Dora, 32-27; Orange Park d. Citrus, 20-7.

Winner gets: The winner would travel to face the North Marion/Dunnellon winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: Local teams have a much simpler path in this region as opposed to Region 1. Both of these teams have overcome obstacles this season to reach this point. Menendez fired its coach after a Week 3 win. Orange Park started the season 0-4. Talk about recoveries. The game that stands out for both is a 35-32 Falcons win over the Raiders on Oct. 30, These teams have strong ground games. OP is paced by sophomore RB JoJo Restall has been a monster in the second half of the season, including a 264-yard game against Menendez. The Falcons have a very good back of their own in Duane Graham, who went for 146 and a TD against the Raiders. OP’s win last week was its first in the postseason since a 14-6 victory over DeLand in 2010.

Ridgeview (7-3) at Ocala Vanguard (6-1)

Road here: Ridgeview d. Tavares, 38-20; Vanguard d. Crystal River, 38-0.

Winner gets: Ridgeview would host the Clay/Atlantic winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: Last week’s big victory was the Panthers' first postseason victory since 2008. Getting No. 2 will be a challenge against a tougher Vanguard squad. QB Max Monroe has 12 TD passes this season, including a pair in last week’s game. RB Eddie Whipple has 17 total TDs this season and remains Ridgeview’s most explosive player. WR Spencer Calise has 5 TD catches for Ridgeview. The Panthers winning a state playoff game a year after finishing 1-9 is one of the better stories in the area this season.

Port Orange Atlantic (1-5) at Clay (8-1)

Road here: Atlantic d. Lake Weir, 6-3; Clay d. Leesburg, 43-0.

Winner gets: Clay would travel to face the Ridgeview/Vanguard winner in the regional semifinals on Nov. 27.

Glance: It warrants repeating that the Blue Devils have made a seven-game improvement in the win column from 2019 and should improve that again this week. Clay was 1-9 last year, with its lone victory over a fellow 1-9 team in Ridgeview. RB Al’querious Ray continues his march towards a 2,000-yard season. He’s at 1,677 yards now and had a pair of rushing TDs and a TD catch last week. QB Tre Griner gives Clay a dual-threat element. He’s passed for 14 TDs with just one pick this season.

Playoffs, Week 3 schedule

Friday, Nov. 20

All games 7:30 p.m. unless indicated

Region 1-8A

Oakleaf (7-3) at Bartram Trail (8-1)

Flagler Palm Coast (4-3) at Sandalwood (7-2), 6 p.m.

Region 1-7A

Fleming Island (7-2) at Tallahassee Chiles (1-5)

Tallahassee Lincoln (6-1) at Atlantic Coast (4-5), 7 p.m.

Region 1-6A

Lee (6-1) at Pensacola Pace (4-3), 8:30 p.m.

Pensacola Escambia (8-0) at St. Augustine (7-2)

Daytona Beach Seabreeze (4-4) at Columbia (3-5)

Daytona Beach Mainland (7-1) at Matanzas (6-3)

Region 1-5A

Tallahassee Godby (4-3) at Ribault (2-6), 6 p.m.

Baker County (7-2) at Raines (4-6), 7 p.m.

Suwannee (8-2) at Pensacola Pine Forest (3-4), 8:30 p.m.

Region 2-5A

Menendez (4-5) at Orange Park (4-5)

Ridgeview (7-3) at Ocala Vanguard (6-1)

Atlantic (1-5) at Clay (8-1)

Region 2-4A

Bolles (7-2) at Fernandina Beach (7-3)

Bradford (5-5) at South Sumter (4-4)

Region 1-3A

Trinity Christian (8-1) at Episcopal (6-2), 7 p.m.

Region 1-2A

University Christian (5-4) at St. John Paul II (5-3)

North Florida Educational (2-6) at Tallahassee North Florida Christian (5-2), 7 p.m.

Region 3-1A

Union County (7-3) at Fort White (2-6)

Madison County (8-2) at Hilliard (8-0)


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