JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three area high school football teams are playing for spots in state championship games this month in Tallahassee.
On Friday night, Bolles and University Christian host state semifinal games, while Trinity Christian goes on the road in its Class 3A battle. Those three teams are the most successful teams in area history. Bolles has a state-record 11 state championships. University Christian has nine. Trinity has seven.
A glance at Friday’s regional final games can be found here.
Class 4A state semifinal
Gadsden County (6-1) at Bolles (9-2), 7:30 p.m.
Road here: Gadsden County d. Santa Fe, 38-0; d. Rutherford by forfeit; d. Marianna, 32-9; Bolles d. Villages Charter, 44-14; d. Fernandina Beach, 35-7; d. South Sumter, 42-7.
Winner gets: Bolles would face the Cocoa-Cardinal Gibbons winner in the state championship game in Tallahassee on Dec. 17 at 1 p.m.
Tickets: Sold out.
Glance: The playoffs have been dominant for the Bulldogs, with their closest game a 28-point drubbing of Fernandina Beach. Class 4A competition has come easy for Bolles. Against South Sumter last week, QB Gunner Boree threw 4 TDs, a nice number considering that Bolles is ground-centric with the powerful RB Kade Frew leading the way. Of Frew’s 1,328 rushing yards, 564 have come in the postseason. He’s logged 7 of his 15 rushing TDs in those games, too. WR Davis Ellis is on the verge of a 1,000-yard receiving season (940 yards, 9 TDs). S Caden Fordham reached the season 100-tackle mark last week and is averaging a team-best 12.3 takedowns in the playoffs. LB Mack Marrone is right behind (11.3 tpg in playoffs). While the Bolles offense has garnered the headlines and highlight reel plays of Boree, Ellis and Frew, the defense may be a bit overshadowed. It has been the bedrock of the season. Only two teams (Creekside and St. Augustine) have managed to crack the 20-point barrier against Bolles’ defense. Gadsden County has a similar stout defensive unit. In six games (one win came via forfeit), the Jaguars have allowed just 52 points (8.7 ppg).
Class 3A state semifinal
Trinity Christian (10-1) at Ocala Trinity Catholic (7-3), 7 p.m.
Road here: Trinity Christian d. Baldwin, 20-3; d. Episcopal, 35-0; d. Tallahassee Florida High, 45-14; Trinity Catholic d. Melbourne Cental Catholic by forfeit; d. Taylor Pierson, 49-0; d. John Carroll Catholic, 48-0.
Winner gets: Trinity Christian would face the Berkeley Prep-Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna winner in the state championship game in Tallahassee on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
Glance: After taking apart one of the best teams in 3A last week in the blink of an eye, coach Verlon Dorminey’s Conquerors are in a game that they should be able to win big. It’s also a small measure of redemption. Last season, Trinity’s first back in 3A after a couple years in 5A, it was expected that the Conquerors would sail through the early portion of the state playoffs. That didn’t happen. Trinity Catholic knocked off Trinity 23-21 and left the Conquerors with a losing season (5-6). These teams have met 4 times in the playoffs and split. Trinity Christian’s offense has benefitted from the return of WR Marcus Burke (12 catches, 266 yards, TD) after an injury-plagued season. A limited but healthy RB Treyaun Webb hasn’t hit double-digit carries in a game since Oct. 30, but he energizes the ground game. In Webb’s reduced capacity, other standouts have emerged. RBs Darnell Rogers, Christian Ellis and Kaleb Killian have all taken turns in the featured role and performed well. QB Jacory Jordan has turned in two of his best games of the season in back-to-back playoff wins over Episcopal and Florida High. And the Conquerors are doing well in the turnover battle (plus-8) and allowing their punishing defense to dictate the pace. DE Johnathan Goddard’s 7 sacks lead the team, but 14 other players have registered at least a half sack. With injuries and a lot of younger players growing into their roles, the time to get the Conquerors was early in the season. They’ve only gotten stronger. A win would give Trinity its 10th appearance in a state title game, all of them under Dorminey.
Class 2A state semifinal
Foundation Academy (9-1) University Christian (7-4), 7 p.m.
Road here: Foundation, bye; d. Saint Francis by forfeit; d. Orangewood Christian, 36-6; d. Victory Christian, 7-0; UC d. Quincy Munroe, 42-0; d. Aucilla Christian, 41-16; d. St. John Paul II, 41-7; d. Tallahassee North Florida Christian, 35-20.
Winner gets: UC would face the Seffner Christian-Hialeah Champagnat Catholic winner in the state championship game in Tallahassee on Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.
Glance: Is this a slam dunk guarantee for UC? On paper, yes. The Christians haven’t so much as flinched this season against 2A competition. In 5 games against 2A teams this season, UC has outscored those teams 179-43. NFC was responsible for 20 of those. Aucilla Christian scored 16 points in garbage time of a running clock game that they trailed 41-0 in. Foundation Academy had a shot at UC earlier this season and lost 35-0. RB Orel Gray emerged as a serious offensive playmaker down the playoff stretch in 2019 and has reprised that role this season in an even greater way. Of his 980 rushing yards this season, 648 have come in the playoffs. That’s 162 rushing yards per game. He’s also scored 8 TDs on the ground in that span. Ja’won Grey (426 receiving yards, 5 TDs) has developed into QB Desirrio Riles’ top target. RB/LB Joe Carter remains a significant two-way threat. He’s coming off of his best rushing game of the season (170 yards) and is the team’s leading player on defense (68 tackles). A win would put UC in the state championship game for the 12th time in school history, 5 of those under current coach David Penland III. Among area teams, only Bolles (18) has played for more championships than UC.