The Columbia Tigers (6-1, 1-1) look to bounce back from their first loss of the season on Friday, as they face a talented Atlantic-Delray Beach (4-2, 2-0) football team at home.
Disappointment Last Week
Columbia’s bid for an elusive undefeated season came t0 an end last week. The Tigers lost 27-21 in overtime at division rival Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville), in a game defined by miscues. Head coach Brian Allen expressed that, while painful to lose to a rival, his team’s missed opportunities and turnovers are something they can fix moving forward. However, losing to Lee means that the Tigers are likely to have to settle for a wild-card spot in the playoffs, making Friday’s tough non-conference game all the more important. Allen stressed the importance of scheduling this type of game in preparing his team for the postseason, as well as for the new RPI system’s strength-of-schedule metric.
Friday night’s game will largely be defined by the match up between Columbia’s offense and an opportunistic Atlantic defense. Though turnovers sunk Columbia’s effort at Lee, star quarterback Jordan Smith was still able to throw for over 250 yards, with fellow USF commit Marquez Bell on the receiving end of more than 100. This duo has driven Columbia all season, and Allen says the two seniors are motivated to put last week’s loss behind them and continue chasing a state title. They face a tall task, however, as Atlantic has stifled opposing offenses all year, allowing just 6.5 points per game. Atlantic’s unit is led by Henry Bryant, a 275 pound defensive tackle who is committed to Louisville.
What the Rankings Say
According to the FHSAA’s new RPI rating system, Columbia is still #37 overall in Florida, and fifth in class 6A. Atlantic is pegged #128 in the state and #22 in class 7A, having faced a schedule filled with talented South Florida schools.
Regardless of ratings, Friday’s game should be a good one between a couple of talented teams with postseason aspirations.