High school football playoffs are underway tonight and there will be a battle of the Raiders as Santa Fe (6-3) takes on South Sumter (8-3) in the regional semi- finals. This is the first time these two schools have met since 2004, when Santa Fe took down South Sumter 24-21 in the 3A regional quarterfinals.
Santa Fe is the 4A District 3 champion with their 4-0 district record, defeating runner-up Bradford to win their first district title win in 19 years. Santa Fe head coach Bill Wiles says the team understands the expectations following their district win. The Raiders’ offense is well known for its unique single-wing formation; utilizing both a tailback and fullback. The offense totals 382.0 yards per game with quarterback BJ Williams having 1,167 rushing yards and 321 passing yards. Santa Fe running back Fred Brown has rushed for 917 yards along with his 13 touchdowns on the season so far, along with running back Ale Sheppard’s 521 yards and nine touchdowns. With a dominant running offense, South Sumter will need to look to solidify its defensive line.
The South Sumter Raiders have been under veteran coach Inman Sherman for 31 years. Their first regular season loss in 39 games was against 5A Bishop Moore and the two regular season losses they have had this year are the most since 2011. South Sumter was the runner-up to Dunnellon in District 4. Wiles says South Sumter will be a tough contender in the playoffs. South Sumter’s offense averages just over 357 yards per game, with quarterback Bryce Williams at the helm, who has thrown for 843 yards and run for 314 more. Wiles believes South Sumter has individuals that will prove to be challenging to the Santa Fe team. Sherman has a nice offensive combination with running James Taylor who has scored 14 touchdowns with his 667 rushing yards, and wideout Kenneth Robinson who has scored five touchdowns with 245 receiving yards.
Both teams will need to step up on defense; Santa Fe must be able to handle South Sumter’s ability to utilize their entire offense and South Sumter will need to fill the holes to slow down Sanata Fe’s running game. Santa Fe’s defense has given up an average of 15 points per game while South Sumter has given up 17.7 points a game.
If Santa Fe wins the game, they will host Bradford or Dunnellon in the regional finals; if South Sumter comes out victorious they will host Bradford or travel to Dunnellon.
Kick off is set tonight at 7:30 PM.