It’s the second week of playoffs under the Friday night lights, and just five local football teams are still alive. The bigger schools, 5A-8A, are in regional semifinal action.
Defending 6A state finalist Gainesville High School (9-2) travels to Hernando County to take on Spring Hill Springstead (10-1). The Hurricanes survived a wild ending to the game against Land O’Lakes Sunlake last week to prevail 17-14. There were three scores in the final 90 seconds, a blocked punt, and GHS took their only lead of the game on field goal with just eight seconds left.
The Canes will have to slow down a powerful option offense, and head coach Mark Latsko said that is not easy.
“You spend so much time concentrating on the option and assignment football that they end up hurting you with their other base plays. They run a lot of fullback dives that we have to be aware of, they run quarterback sweeps and bootlegs. We have to be accountable for everything,” he said.
Elsewhere in 6A, Columbia (10-1) will host St. Johns Bartram Trail (6-5). The Bears upset Jacksonville Ed White last week, the only team that has beaten the Columbia this season. The Tigers will have to find a way to slow down PJ Blazejowski who accounted for 393 yards of offense and four scores last week for the Bears.
The smaller schools, 1A-4A, will be squaring off in the regional finals with a chance to go to the state semifinals.
A very intriguing match-up in Cross City has the Dixie County Bears (9-0) hosting the Union County Tigers (10-1). The Bears have been here before, but lost in their last four opportunities to reach the state semifinals, including two to the same team they face tonight. Dixie County head coach Brent Wilkerson said his team is ready.
“Our guys go play hard no matter what. They kinda know what we do, and we know what they do. So it’s really about going to be a lot about the boys going out and executing and playing hard.”
For the Tigers it is an opportunity to avenge their regular season loss which cost them a third straight district title.
Meanwhile, the defending 1A state finalist Trenton Tigers (9-1) travel to Jasper to face Hamilton County (5-5). The Tigers come in hot, having won eight straight games, and a win in this contest would allow them to host a state semifinal for the first time.
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