Preview: Gainesville and South Lake Go Head to Head in District Game

Gainesville, Fla. — As high school football district play winds down, every game could factor into a playoff birth. As Gainesville High School prepares to suit up against South Lake, that couldn’t ring more true. The Hurricanes are 5-2 overall, 2-1 in district play. They’ll go up against a 5-3 Eagles squad who only have one in the district this season.

When Hurricanes host the Eagles at Citizens field on Thursday night at 7:30, they hope to send their seniors off tonight on senior night the right way: with a win.

Scouting the Eagles

The Eagles triple option offense is their biggest threat to their opponents. Not seen all that often in high school football, it’s a big adjustment for their opposing offenses.

Running back Kelley Joiner Jr. not only leads the team, but leads the entire area in rushing so far this season. He has already put together a record-breaking season for the Eagles. The junior broke the school’s single-season record in their match up against Ocala Forest for total rushing yards. Now, with two games left to play, he has 1,901 yards under his belt with 24 touchdowns.

As for their passing game, Baylee Heuser has proven his abilities as their quarterback. The junior has totaled with 1,284 passing yards and 11 touchdowns so far this season.

Gainesville head coach Mark Latsko said they are different from what the Hurricanes have seen the past couple of weeks. 

Scouting the Hurricanes

This Gainesville High group has really come into stride in the past few weeks. They crushed Leesburg 49-14 last Friday on the road. Although they took a 31-24 loss to Vanguard the previous week, it was a testament to how the defense has developed. Vanguard has been blowing opponents out the water by 40-point margins this season, but the Hurricanes were able to hold them to their lowest scoring performance so far.

Latsko said a couple of weeks ago they made some adjustments to their offensive line and that helped the run game improve tremendously. Most of the carries are split between senior Willie McKnight (301 yards) and sophomore Kinnzon Hutchinson (212 yards).

Having confidence in this run game has been integral for coach Latsko.

Overall though, they are much more of a passing team. Quarterback Luke Matthews has connected with Jalen Kelsey for six touchdowns and a total of 765 yards.

This is the first of three games Gainesville will play in a matter of eight days due to making up a missed match up during the hurricane. Latsko said even though it has been stressful for him as a coach, the guys are enjoying all the time on the field.

With two district games left, Latsko has high hopes for how this season will play out. He said the team talked after practice this week how they are in control of their own destiny.

That will all start on Thursday night as they take on the Eagles at 7:30 p.m. at Citizens Field.

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