District races are heating up for many area schools. Let’s take a look at this week’s notable matchups.
Buchholz (6-1) at Fleming Island (4-3) – 7:30 PM
Looking for their first district championship in over ten years, the Bobcats hit the road Friday night on a four game win streak. Quarterback Jackson White (1,633 yards, 18 TDs) will look to keep the offense rolling, as they have averaged nearly 35 points per contest this season. Fleming Island has been in a bit of limbo so far this year — their head coach Frank Hall was suspended mid-season amid an investigation into the booster club and financing — but BHS head coach Mark Whittemore doesn’t expect them to lie down.
“We’re really concerned that they’ll actually be better here at the tail-end of the season,” Whittemore said. “Sometimes kids rally.”
The Golden Eagles did indeed rally last week in an overtime victory over Creekside, and will aim to play spoiler to the Bobcats’ district title aspirations. A strange stat jumps out for Fleming Island as well: they average 21.6 points per game offensively, and surrender 21.6 points per game defensively. Look for them to try to control the clock and keep the Buchholz offense on the sidelines with running back and Rutgers commit Trey Sneed.
Dixie County (5-2) at Newberry (5-2) – 7:30 PM
Trenton is in the driver’s seat to win this district, so tonight’s duel will likely decide who gets the other playoff berth. A low-scoring affair could be in store tonight — both schools average less than 275 yards per game on offense. Conversely, Dixie County’s defense surrenders just 13.4 points per game. Newberry’s defense? 18.3.
The Bears have won five of the last six matchups, and will be looking for their third straight postseason appearance after getting to the state semifinals in 2013 and 2014. The Panthers haven’t been to the playoffs since 2012.
Gainesville (4-4) at Leesburg (2-5) – 7 PM
The roller coaster of a year for the Hurricanes could still end with them earning a playoff berth. A win tonight and a Vanguard win over Forest next Friday would guarantee that. However, a Forest victory would mean a three-way tiebreaker shootout to see who heads to the postseason. This is the last week that QB Caelan Christian and WR Kyle McGriff are suspended, while RB Chris King is out for the remainder of the regular season. Freshman Luke Matthews (son of former Gators QB Shane Matthews) stepped under center last week in lieu of Christian, but the Canes could only muster 231 yards of offense against Vanguard. The sledding might be a little easier this evening against a Leesburg squad who gives up nearly 30 points per game on defense.
Other noteworthy matchups tonight include Columbia-Fletcher, Santa Fe-PK Yonge, and Eastside-Fort White.