High school football ‘21: Can Baker County, Bolles, Trinity reach title games?

Bolles QB DJ Moore (1) picks up yards in the second quarter against St. Augustine during a Week 3 game. (Ralph D. Priddy, News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The final four area football teams still standing have a big Friday night planned.

Baker County, Bolles and Trinity Christian in the News4JAX Florida coverage area are still going strong. Pierce County is the area’s lone survivor in the South Georgia coverage region.

All four area in state semifinal showdowns on Friday night. Here’s a glance at those matchups. All games at 7:30 p.m.

Class 5A

3. Baker County (11-2) at Miami Central (10-2)

Road here: Baker County d. White, 28-12; d. West Florida, 13-10; d. Wakulla, 26-10; Miami Central d. North Miami Beach, 49-6; d. Plantation American Heritage, 41-28; d. Miami Killian, 39-13.

Winner gets: 4. Sebring (9-3) or Merritt Island (12-1) in the Class 5A state championship game on Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Glance: The Wildcats are in the fourth round for just the third time in program history. Miami Central is one of the top programs in state history. The Rockets are in search of a state championship threepeat and eighth title overall. Baker County has posted three excellent games in the playoffs, with defense the hallmark of those. This unit is brutal on the defensive side of the ball. DE Orlando Holland had eight sacks in last week’s win over Wakulla. His 26 sacks this season are nearly half of Baker County’s 55. LBs Camilo Rollins (122 tackles, 4 sacks), Bryce Kazmierczak (88 tackles, 11 sacks) have been a wrecking crew. DBs Jamil Jones (10 interceptions) and Ronnie Ellis (5 interceptions) have combined for more than half of Baker County’s 22 picks as a team. The Wildcats have allowed more than 21 points in a game just once this season, back in Week 2 against Viera (31-22). Outside of Baker County’s nasty defense, it can move the ball very well with a variety of backs. RB Cam Smith has rushed for 1,430 yards and 18 touchdowns. He had three TDs last week in a dominant one-man offensive show. QB Noah Ray has passed for 1,463 yards and 12 TDs, and he doesn’t make many mistakes with the football (3 interceptions). The Wildcats have reached the final four twice before, once in 1989 when the playoffs were just three rounds, and the other in 2017. Baker County is 1-1 in those games. The Wildcats reached their lone state championship game in 2017, losing to Plantation American Heritage.

Class 4A

4. Bolles (8-2) at 1. Cocoa (10-1)

Road here: Bolles d. Gadsden County, 27-6; d. South Walton, 55-7; Cocoa d. South Sumter, 41-0; d. Villages Charter, 54-21; both teams had byes in the first round.

Winner gets: 3. Lakewood (11-2) or 2. Cardinal Gibbons (9-2) in the Class 4A state championship game on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

Glance: Bolles has been dominant in state semifinal games. The Bulldogs have played in 21 state semifinal games in program history and they’ve won the last 19 of them. That’s a staggering amount of success. The iconic Corky Rogers was 16-0 in final four games. Current coach Matt Toblin is 2-0 at Bolles and 3-0 all-time in the state semis (he won the Class 5A state semi in 2016 at Ponte Vedra). The challenge this week is significant. Bolles has perhaps the area’s best RB in Kade Frew (1,309 rushing yards, 20 TDs) and a strong offensive line blocking for him. The big test for the Bulldogs comes in the form of defense. The Bulldogs’ strength is on that side of the ball and they’re tough at all three levels. LB Jack Pyburn (100 tackles, 30 TFL, 14 sacks), DL Hayden Schwartz (49 tackles, 16 TFL, 7 sacks) and DBs Spencer Surface (61 tackles, 5 INT) and Kavon Miller (35 tackles, 5 INT) are the headliners on that unit. And they are nasty tough. Bolles has given up just 80 points on defense in 10 games and that makes this battle a collision of the styles. Cocoa has played a rugged schedule. Seven of its opponents reached the state playoffs. Its lone loss was a 21-20 game to Class 8A state semifinalist Venice. Bolles will have its hands full on defense in trying to slow 1,700-yard rusher OJ Ross, 1,000-yard receiver Jmariyae Robinson and 3,000-yard passer Davin Wydner.

Class 3A, Georgia

Carver (11-2) at Pierce County (11-2)

Road here: Carver d. North Hall, 56-17; d. Liberty County, 53-12; d. Burke County, 46-14; Pierce County d. Windsor Forest, 42-0; d. Dawson County, 49-0; d. Peach County, 35-30

Winner gets: Cedar Grove (10-3) or Appling County (12-1) in the Class 3A state championship game on Dec. 11 at noon.

Class 2A

4. Trinity Christian (8-4) at 1. Orlando Christian Prep (10-1)

Road here: Trinity d. St. John Paul II, 44-7; d. Quincy Munroe, 39-22; OCP d. Holy Trinity Episcopal, 47-12; d. Zephyrhills Christian, 48-12; both teams had byes in the first round.

Winner gets: 3. Champagnat Catholic (9-2) or 2. First Baptist Academy (10-1) in the Class 2A state championship game Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee.

Glance: This marks the 17th state semifinal appearance for the Conquerors, and second straight. Trinity is 10-5 in final four games. The big playoff story for Trinity has been the inability of teams to slow down RB Treyaun Webb. Limited in the front half of the season due to injury, he’s been almost untouchable in the postseason. In Webb’s two playoff games, he’s rushed for 506 yards and six TDs on just 28 carries, a staggering 18.1 yards per carry. That’s a mark akin to what a receiver would produce, not a running back. Package Webb with Darnell Rogers (1,079 rushing yards, 10 TDs) and that duo is punishing defenses. Receivers Fred Highsmith, Darias James and Xander Ross have been the recipients of 18 of QB Colin Hurley’s 22 touchdown passes this season. LBs Caden Morrell (127 tackles, 11.5 TFL) and Cameron Anderson (87 tackles, 14 TFL) lead the middle of the defense. DB Keaton Thomas has two of his six interceptions in last week’s win over Munroe. Trinity’s growth area — turnovers. This late in the season, the Conquerors should be cutting down on those. In its three games in November (the regular season finale and two playoff games) Trinity has thrown five interceptions and lost three fumbles. Two of those picks have gone back for 97- and 98-yard touchdowns. Against more challenging opponents, those can’t happen. OCP has made a name for itself in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference, winning championships there in 2018 and ‘20. Can it pull off a seismic upset in its first FHSAA state semifinal?

Florida playoff schedule

Dec. 3, State semifinals, all times 7:30 p.m.

Class 5A

4. Sebring (9-3) at 1. Merritt Island (12-1)

3. Baker County (11-2) at 2. Miami Central (10-2)

Class 4A

4. Bolles (8-2) at 1. Cocoa (10-1)

3. Lakewood (11-2) at 2. Cardinal Gibbons (9-2)

Class 2A

4. Trinity Christian (8-4) at 1. Orlando Christian Prep (10-1)

3. Champagnat Catholic (9-2) at 2. First Baptist Academy (10-1)

Georgia playoff schedule

Dec. 3, state semifinals

Class 3A

Appling County (12-1) at Cedar Grove (10-3)

Carver (11-2) at Pierce County (11-2)


About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.