High school football playoffs Week 4: Glance at Class 5A-8A matchups

St Augustine running back Ty Baxter (16) hurdles a teammate during a second quarter run against Mosley on Nov. 20.
St Augustine running back Ty Baxter (16) hurdles a teammate during a second quarter run against Mosley on Nov. 20. (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s the fourth official week of the high school football state playoffs and teams are headed into the homestretch. A glance at this Friday’s games for area teams in the Class 5A-8A playoffs. Classes 1A-4A games can be found here.

Region 1-8A semifinals

Bartram Trail (9-1) at Spruce Creek (6-3), 7:30 p.m.

Road here: Bartram d. Oakleaf, 51-7; Spruce Creek d. West Port, 35-12.

Winner gets: Bartram would travel to face the winner of Seminole-Sandalwood in the regional final on Dec. 4.

Glance: The Bears are coming off of their most dominant victory against a quality team of the season. Bartram eviscerated Oakleaf in a running clock game last week, less than a month after needing a comeback and a 54-yard field goal to edge Oakleaf. What’s scary about that performance? Bartram QBs Santino Marucci and Brody Davis threw all of 6 passes and the Bears still put up a season-high in points. The run game was punishing. AJ Jones had 168 rushing yards and a TD on 18 carries, part of a 302-yard, 5-TD night. The defense warrants special mention. LB Dylan Chiedo (13 tackles, INT) and LB Micah Pollard (5 tackles, 2 TFL, FF) are the biggest disruptors on the team, but the Bears swamped a veteran Oakleaf unit on all three defensive levels. Bartram picked off 3 passes and recovered 2 fumbles in an absolutely thorough beating of a quality team. Is the ceiling for this Bartram team the state championship game? The Bears met Spruce Creek in the playoff opener last year and pummeled the Hawks, 42-0.

Seminole (8-0) at Sandalwood (8-2), 6 p.m.

Road here: Seminole d. DeLand, 28-13; Sandalwood d. Mandarin, 28-13; d. Flagler Palm Coast, 28-19.

Winner gets: Sandalwood would host the winner of Bartram Trail-Spruce Creek in the regional final on Dec. 4.

Glance: As good as the Saints have been over the years, this is just the fifth time in program history that they have won at least two playoff games. Not since 2006 has Sandalwood notched two postseason wins. QB Chris Calhoun is offensive headliner for Sandalwood (1,116 passing yards, 11 TDs, 843 rushing yards, 6 TDs) but the Saints’ strength is on the other side of the ball. Sandalwood is exceptional at getting to the QB. It is averaging 4.3 sacks per game, with DE Sayvion Blount and LB Branden Jennings responsible for 22 sacks. LB Langston Hardy has been a menace (71 tackles, 6 sacks). ATH Jadon Canady is the most dangerous two-way player in town. He’s got 6 TD catches on just 11 receptions and an area-best 10 picks. Sandalwood has 18 interceptions as a team and scored twice against FPC last week on defense (a Robert Simmons strip) and a blocked field goal by Blount that Anthony Brackenridge returned for six. These teams have met three times in the playoffs, Seminole wins in 2006 and 2017, and a Sandalwood victory in 2004.

Region 1-7A semifinals

Atlantic Coast (5-5) at Fleming Island (8-2), 7:30 p.m.

Road here: Atlantic Coast d. Fletcher, 47-21; d. Tallahassee Lincoln, 17-9; Fleming d. Tate, 21-0; d. Chiles, 23-7.

Winner gets: Atlantic Coast or Fleming Island would host the winner of Niceville-Buchholz in the regional final on Dec. 4.

Glance: A stunning playoff surge for Atlantic Coast remains one of the best stories in the postseason. A week after dropping 47 on a Fletcher team that beat them by 10 in the regular season, the Stingrays downshifted and played rugged defense to oust the Trojans in the second round. Can the redemption tour continue against Fleming Island, a team that beat Atlantic Coast 35-14 in the regular season? RB Ridge Jacobs has been solid in the playoffs (19 for 36, 413 yards, 3 TDs). A large portion of those yards are going to WR Patrick Bryant II, a player who was voted by his peers as the best offensive player in the area. Bryant has 249 yards and a pair of TDs on 8 catches in the playoffs. RB Arthur Walker has found another gear in the postseason, rushing for 236 yards and 4 TDs. Atlantic Coast has held on to the football, too, losing just one fumble in those games. S Jahiem Odom (20 total tackles, sack, INT) and DB Desmond Evans (21 tackles) have led the defense in that span. Fleming has won three straight since a loss to Buchholz and has allowed just one TD in its playoff games. The Golden Eagles are built on the power game; run the ball well and smother opposing offenses. The effort comes from all over. RBs Sam Singleton and Timothy Thomas are the headliners for Fleming, but last week, it was FB TK Kocak rushing for a TD and throwing for another. WR Darion Domineck has a team-best 3 TD catches. LB Alex Maier was the dominant player in the playoff opener for Fleming, scoring twice on defense.

Region 1-6A semifinals

Pensacola Pace (5-3) at St. Augustine (8-2), 7:30 p.m.

Road here: Pace d. Booker T. Washington, 24-20; d. Lee, 23-21; St. Augustine d. Mosley 38-24; d. Pensacola Escambia, 48-27.

Winner gets: St. Augustine would travel to face the winner of Columbia-Mainland in the regional final on Dec. 4.

Glance: The Yellow Jackets are on a tear, currently riding a seven-game winning streak that ranks as the area’s second-longest behind Trinity Christian’s nine in a row. Knocking off previously unbeaten Escambia last week was St. Augustine’s biggest victory over a high quality opponent in years. It muscled up at the finish, too, roaring back when the Gators sliced the lead to 34-27 with two minutes to go. QB Sam Edwards had four TDs in the game and ATH Dequan Stanley had a game-clinching pick six. The Yellow Jackets are in the regional semifinals for the third time under coach Brian Braddock, last going in 2016-17. Edwards has 15 TD passes this season and RB Ty Baxter eclipsed the 1,000-yard season rushing mark in the playoff opener. Stanley remains St. Augustine’s best all-around threat, shining on offense at receiver and remaining a force in the secondary.

Daytona Beach Mainland (8-1) at Columbia (4-5), 7:30 p.m.

Road here: Mainland d. Gainesville, 24-21; Columbia d. Englewood, 41-7; Columbia d. Ponte Vedra, 14-0; Columbia d. Seabreeze, 28-14.

Winner gets: Columbia would host the winner of St. Augustine-Pace in the regional final on Dec. 4.

Glance: The Tigers have been on a mission since opening the season 0-5. It’s been a steady stream of contributions from different players during that streak, notably WR-turned-QB Marcus Peterson, ATH Tray Tolliver and RB Tony Fulton. Peterson has accounted for 3 passing TDs and 3 rushing TDs in that span. Tolliver has a punt return and receiving score and Fulton has 3 rushing TDs. The Tigers seem to have found a consistency at QB with the dual-threat Peterson taking snaps. The Tigers have reached the regional semifinals in coach Brian Allen’s tenure eight times. A win over the Bucs would be just the sixth visit to the regional final since 2000. Mainland’s defense had been a rock much of the season until giving up 28 last week to Matanzas. The Bucs are holding teams to 11.3 points per game.

Region 1-5A semifinals

Ribault (3-6) at Tallahassee Rickards (6-1), 7:30 p.m.

Road here: Ribault d. Choctaw, 38-33; d. Tallahassee Godby, 42-34 (3 OT); Rickards d. White, 21-14; d. West Florida, 38-16.

Winner gets: Ribault would travel to face the winner of Baker County-Pine Forest in the regional final on Dec. 4.

Glance: The Trojans have won two playoff games in the same season for just the second time in school history (1993). It’s going to be difficult to top last week’s’ effort in terms of sheer drama anytime soon. The Trojans trailed 20-0 at one point and roared back in the second half to tie the game with 4 seconds to play, with RB Martranius Mack providing both the tying and eventual winning TD runs. The defense got the winning stop in the third OT. The Trojans, under first-year coach Marlon White, now have more victories in the state playoffs than they had in the regular season. Their offense has found another gear, too. Ribault hadn’t scored more than 27 points in a game this season until the playoffs, averaging just 19.6 ppg. In the state playoffs, the Trojans are averaging 40 ppg, a massive jump in production.

Baker County (9-2) at Pensacola Pine Forest (4-4), 7:30 p.m.

Road here: Baker County d. Arnold by forfeit; d. Raines, 33-32 (2 OT): Pine Forest d. Wakulla, 28-21; d. Suwannee, 21-20.

Winner gets: Baker County would host the winner of Ribault-Rickards in the regional final on Dec. 4.

Glance: The Wildcats got a significant test — and scare — from Raines last week before knocking away a two-point try to seal a win. Baker County struggled to run the ball on a sloppy field against a tough Raines defense and had to grind out hard yards. The Wildcats’ 174 rushing yards was their second-lowest of the season, and their 3.5 ypc was their lowest. Baker County still won, with RBs Scooby Graham and Jamarian Baker, and QB Carson Crawford chewing up 155 yards on the ground between them. That’s the beauty of Baker County’s diverse ground game. There’s always fresh legs for coach Kevin Mays’ offense. Defense played well for the Wildcats, too. CB De’heaven Clark and LB Jamil Jones had picks. That defense will try and keep Pine Forest in check. The Eagles aren’t a particularly explosive offense, eclipsing the 20-point mark in games just 3 times this season.

Region 2-5A semifinals

Menendez (5-5) at Dunnellon (8-0), canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Note: Menendez was forced to cancel due to COVID-19 and had to forfeit. Dunnellon advances to the regional final.

Clay (9-1) at Ocala Vanguard (7-1), 7:30 p.m.

Road here: Clay d. Leesburg, 43-0; d. Port Orange Atlantic, 35-0; Vanguard d. Crystal River, 38-0; d. Ridgeview, 35-0.

Winner gets: Clay would host the winner of Dunnellon in the regional final on Dec. 4.

Glance: One thing is guaranteed here — one of these teams will have to allow a point in the playoffs this season. Through two weeks, neither the Blue Devils, nor the Knights have surrendered a point in the postseason. Vanguard enters riding a four-game shutout streak and has given up just 57 points all season, and 30 of those came in a loss to Dunnellon. Clay has been riding the legs of powerful QB Al’querious Ray, dual-threat QB Tre Griner and WR D’maurion Frazier to the tune of big offensive numbers this season. No doubt the Blue Devils’ second-toughest opponent of the season behind county rival Oakleaf.

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