High school football ‘22: Glance at opening round matchups in Suburban, Rural divisions

Creekside running back Nicky Williams. (Kevin Nguyen, News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The high school football playoffs begin on Friday night, with games on Saturday and Monday night, too, due to Hurricane Nicole. A glance at the matchups in the Suburban and Rural divisions. Metro games will be published Thursday. All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless indicated.

Region 1-4S

(8) Flagler Palm Coast (4-6) at (1) Bartram Trail (10-0)

Winner gets: (4) Creekside or (5) Navarre in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. Bartram would host either team; FPC would travel to face either team.

(4) Creekside (8-2) at (5) Navarre (8-2), 7:30 p.m.

Winner gets: (8) Flagler Palm Coast or (1) Bartram Trail in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. Creekside would host FPC but travel to face Bartram.

Region glance: FPC is far better than a No. 8 seed. On the field, it went 7-3. It had to forfeit three victories due to an ineligible player. Without those forfeits, it would likely be a No. 4 or 5 seed. Instead, this gives Bartram a far more challenging opener than it would have had. Bartram RB Laython Biddle has emerged into a sledgehammer of a back for the Bears. He and QB Riley Trujillo are both juniors and have helped shape this Bartram offense into an explosive group. LB Zeke Cromwell and DB Sharif Denson give Bartram’s defense some bite. They’ll try and rein in FPC RB Marcus Mitchell (935 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and QB DJ Murray (1,409 passing yards, 15 TDs, 644 rushing yards, 11 TDs). ... Creekside is averaging 40.7 ppg this season, with QB Wilson Edwards (1,412 passing yards, 15 TDs), WR Ashton Reynolds (455 receiving yards, 7 TDs) and RB Nicky Williams (1,097 rushing yards, 16 TDs) the big offensive names to keep an eye on. DB Jaylen Boyer (4 INT) and LB Ian Mooney (72 tackles) lead the team in those defensive categories.

Region 1-3S

(5) Choctaw (5-5) at (4) St. Augustine (7-3), Saturday, 6 p.m.

Winner gets: (8) Rickards or (1) Pine Forest in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. St. Augustine would host Rickards but travel to Pine Forest.

(7) Middleburg (5-5) at (2) Escambia (7-3), 8:30 p.m.

Winner gets: (6) Lincoln (5-5) at (3) Columbia in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. Middleburg would travel to face either.

(6) Lincoln (5-5) at (3) Columbia (6-3), 7:30 p.m.

Winner gets: (7) Middleburg or (2) Escambia in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. Columbia would host Middleburg but travel to Escambia.

Region glance: The Broncos recovered from an 0-4 start to make the state playoffs, with RB TJ Lane (1,786 rushing yards, 16 TDs) at the forefront of that turnaround. LB Austin Cruce (97 tackles) and DB Jaden Boyd (3 INT) lead the defense. Middleburg hasn’t been to the playoffs in a non-COVID year since 2016. ... St. Augustine is back in the state playoffs after missing last year for the first time since 1998. The core of the team that missed out last year is back this year and will be back next year, too. Sophomore QB Locklan Hewlett (2,126 passing yards) has thrown 23 TDs. WRs Trenton Jones (564 receiving yards, 4 TDs) and Carl Jenkins Jr. (542 receiving yards, 8 TDs) are both sophomores. And RB Devonte Lyons (1,269 rushing yards, 16 TDs) is a junior. So, too, is the team’s top tackler, Drake Lusk (77 tackles, 3 TFL). ... Columbia got out to a tough 0-2 start but has clicked in the second half of the season. Dual threat QB Tyler Jefferson (938 passing yards, 7 TDs, 441 rushing yards, 4 TDs) keeps defenses attention and he’s got a very good target in WR Camden Frier (413 receiving yards, 4 TDs). RB Tony Fulton (537 rushing yards, 8 TDs) is a back that teams have to pay attention to.

Region 1-2S

(7) Walton (7-3) at (2) Suwannee (8-2), 7:30 p.m.

Winner gets: (6) Panama City Bay or (3) West Florida in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. Suwannee would host either team.

Region glance: The Bulldogs are red-hot entering the state playoffs, including a 10-7 win over previously unbeaten Bradford in Week 11. They’ve won six straight. RB Marquavious Owens (951 rushing yards, 6 TDs) and WR Javarion Smith (796 receiving yards, 9 TDs) are the skill position players who power Suwannee. QB Bronsen Tillotson (1,445 passing yards, 13 TDs) has a big arm. LB Kodi Lang (80 tackles) leads Suwannee on the defensive side of the ball.

Region 2-2S

(8) Crescent City (4-6) at (1) Bradford (9-1)

Winner gets: (4) North Marion or (5) Eastside in the regional finals on Nov. 18. Bradford would host either team.

(7) Palatka (7-3) at (2) Baldwin (8-2), Saturday, 6 p.m.

Winner gets: (6) Yulee or (3) Baker County in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. Baldwin would host either team; Palatka would travel to face either team.

(6) Yulee (6-4) at (3) Baker County (7-3), 7:30 p.m.

Winner gets: (7) Palatka or (2) Baldwin in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. Yulee and Baker County would travel to face Baldwin but would host Palatka.

Region glance: Intriguing matchups here with the Tornadoes the clear-cut favorite. Bradford is coming off a Week 11 loss to Suwannee (10-7) but the Tornadoes have been sensational on the defensive side of the ball all season long (31 points allowed). They’ve clocked three of the teams in this region by a combined 91-14. LB Chason Clark leads Bradford on the defensive side of the ball. RBs Manny Covey and Willie Pollard, and QB Jeremiah McKenzie lead the Tornadoes on offense. ... The 2-7 game is a very good, very evenly matched scrap. Patrick Turner has helped pivot the Panthers around quickly, including a 7-0 start to the season. Sure, they’ve stumbled down the stretch but it’s major progress. QB Jamarrie McKinnon has 15 TD passes (1,246 passing yards), one-third of those going to Ty’Ran Bush (439 receiving yards). DB Chavaris Dumas is one of the area’s top players when it comes to interceptions. He has six of Palatka’s eight picks. Baldwin is coming off a Week 11 shellacking (28-0 loss to White) but it is a district champ and had only lost once before, a 30-0 defeat to Bradford. QB Jalen Hitchens (882 rushing yards, 10 TDs) is a big threat out of the pocket with his legs. DB Cortez Martinez and LB Leon Kirkland have combined for nine of Baldwin’s 13 interceptions. ... Yulee had Baker County on the ropes in a regular season contest, only to have the Wildcats come back for a 31-30 win. QB Chris Turner has been one of the area’s top passers for the Hornets (1,994 yards, 24 TDs), the bulk of those yards to WR Zackary Drawdy (842 receiving yards, 8 TDs). Josiah Evans and Jye Thompson have combined for 881 receiving yards and 13 TDs. LB Amauri Goff (96 tackles, 9 TFL) leads the Yulee defense. Baker County has one of the area’s most explosive backs in Cam Smith (1,273 rushing yards, 14 TDs). LBs Seth Chestnut (129 tackles, 4 TFL) and Orlando Holland (110 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 5 TFL) are tough up front. DB Davion Dean (6 INTs) has kept Baker County’s larcenous secondary thriving, despite significant graduation losses.

Region 3-1R

(5) Fort White (6-4) at (4) Madison County (3-6)

Winner gets: (1) Union County in the regional semifinals on Nov. 18. Union would host either team.

Glance: This has been a different type of season for the Cowboys, the defending state champion. Losses aside, they’ve faced some steep competition in the regular season. How will that pay off come playoff time? These teams have met three times in the playoffs, all Madison County wins. Indians RB Najeeb Smith (999 rushing yards, 9 TDs) will likely eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark on his first carry. QB Clayton Philpot (1,058 passing yards) has thrown 11 TD passes. DB Gavin Heaton (4 INTs) and LB Davone Calhoun (110 tackles) also star for Fort White.

High school football playoffs

Regional quarterfinals, Friday

All games 7 p.m. unless indicated

Region 1-4S

(8) Flagler Palm Coast (4-6) at (1) Bartram Trail (10-0)

(4) Creekside (8-2) at (5) Navarre (8-2), 7:30 p.m.

(7) Crestview (6-4) at (2) Niceville (9-1), 8 p.m.

(6) Pace (7-3) at (3) Buchholz (7-2), 7:30 p.m.

Region 1-3S

(8) Rickards (4-6) at (1) Pine Forest (9-0), 8:30 p.m.

(5) Choctaw (5-5) at (4) St. Augustine (7-3), Saturday, 6 p.m.

(7) Middleburg (5-5) at (2) Escambia (7-3), 8:30 p.m.

(6) Lincoln (5-5) at (3) Columbia (6-3), 7:30 p.m.

Region 1-2S

(8) South Walton (7-3) at (1) Florida High (10-0)

(5) Wakulla (7-3) at (4) Pensacola Catholic (9-1), 8 p.m.

(6) Panama City Bay (8-2) at (3) West Florida (7-2), 8 p.m.

(7) Walton (7-3) at (2) Suwannee (8-2), 7:30 p.m.

Region 2-2S

(8) Crescent City (4-6) at (1) Bradford (9-1)

(4) North Marion (7-3) at (5) Eastside (7-2)

(7) Palatka (7-3) at (2) Baldwin (8-2), Saturday, 6 p.m.

(6) Yulee (6-4) at (3) Baker County (7-3), 7:30 p.m.

Region 1-4M

(1) Seminole (8-2) at (8) Mandarin (5-4), Monday, 6:30 p.m.

(5) Hagerty (8-2) at (4) Lake Mary (6-3), 7:30 p.m.

(7) Boone (6-4) at (2) Apopka (7-3)

(6) Lake Brantley (5-5) at (3) Winter Park (9-1)

Region 1-3M

(8) First Coast (6-3) at (1) Orlando Edgewater (10-0), Saturday, 6 p.m.

(5) Tampa Bay Tech (8-2) at (4) Fletcher (8-2), Saturday, 6 p.m.

(7) Wekiva (5-5) at (2) Orlando Jones (8-2)

(6) Tampa Wharton (8-2) at (3) Oviedo (9-1)

Region 1-2M

(8) Riverside (4-6) at (1) Jackson (8-2), 6:30 p.m.

(7) Bishop Moore (7-3) at (2) Bishop Kenny (8-2), Saturday, 6 p.m.

(6) Episcopal (8-2) at (3) Bolles (6-4), 7:30 p.m.

(5) Raines (7-2) at (4) White (7-2), 6:30 p.m.

Region 3-1R

(5) Fort White (6-4) at (4) Madison County (3-6)

(6) Branford (7-3) at (3) Mayo Lafayette (8-2)

(1) Union County (6-2) and (2) Hilliard (8-2), first-round bye

Regional semifinals

Friday, Nov. 18

Region 1-1M

(4) Orlando Christian Prep (6-4) at (1) Trinity Christian (10-0)

(3) First Academy (8-2) at (2) University Christian (9-1)

Georgia High School Association playoffs

All games Friday at 7:30 unless indicated

Class 7A

(4) East Coweta (6-4) at (1) Camden County (7-3), Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

Class 6A

(4) Glynn Academy (6-4) at (1) Northside Warner Robins (6-4)

Class 5A

(4) Houston County (8-2) at (1) Brunswick (10-0)

(4) Jones County (6-4) at (1) Ware County (9-0), Saturday, 5:30 p.m.

Class 2A

(3) Laney (8-2) at (2) Pierce County (9-1)

Class 1A Division 2

(4) Seminole County (4-6) at (1) Charlton County (7-2)


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.