Five Local Teams In Round 2 Prep Football Playoffs
By Space Coast Daily // November 22, 2013
ABOVE VIDEO: In what may just be the best game of the year on the Space Coast, Palm Bay will return to the O-Dome for a rematch as the Pirates take on Merritt Island in a 5A Regional Semifinal match-up on Friday night. Both programs are steeped in tradition and are recognized as among the best in the state. SpaceCoastDaily.com’s Matt O’Hern had the pleasure to talk with Walt Battle, a member of the last Mustang team that went undefeated and won a state championship in 1979, and his son, Jon-el, a senior running back for the Mustangs, who compared notes as to which team is better. Mustang head coach Jeff McLean also talks about the tradition of the Merritt Island football program as well as his team’s prospects on Friday night against the Pirates.
FRIDAY, NOV. 22 GAMES
Friday Night Locker Room – Mike Erdman Cadillac Nissan Games of the Week
FRIDAY NIGHT LOCKER ROOM GAME OF THE WEEK
NAPLES @ HERITAGE – WPIO 89.3/90.3 FM
FRIDAY NIGHT LOCKER ROOM GAME OF THE WEEK
TAMPA CATHOLIC @ MELBOURNE CENTRAL CATHOLIC – WMEL AM 1300
GAME CAPSULES & PREDICTIONS
NAPLES @ HERITAGE (6A Regional Semifinals)
Naples dominated Bayside last week in the first round, winning by a final score of 49-7. Heritage got to the semifinals by defeating Estero 49-3. This game will feature two teams with three extraordinary runners. Naples will run the ball with Max Joseph, Garrett Zech and Carlin Fils-Aime. Heritage will run Josh Gaines, Josh Harden and Dedric Witherspoon. The difference-maker in this game could be Clinton Moxam, who threw for over 1,000 yards last season but has not been called upon as much due to the Heritage outstanding running game. Its the second round of the playoffs and Coach Ulmer will pull out all of the stops in this one as Heritage wins in a close one. Winners advance to Regional Final against Miami Central or Dillard.
PREDICTION: Heritage 28, Naples 20
KEY PLAYERS – Heritage: Clinton Moxam (Sr. QB), Josh Gaines (So. RB), Dedric Witherspoon (Sr. ATH), Josh Harden (So. RB)
KEY PLAYERS – Naples: Max Joseph (Jr. RB), Brian Donnelly (Sr. LB), Carlin Fils-Aime (So. RB)
CLEWISTON @ COCOA (4A Regional Semifinals)
Clewiston defeated Space Coast 63-14 in the regional semifinal and will now face a Cocoa team that has averaged 43 points per game. The emergence of freshmen quarterback Bruce Judson has given Cocoa a new dynamic passing game to go along with its running game. The strength of Cocoa is still its defense, and some coaches have called this the best defensive team ever at Cocoa – which is high praise considering the talent on the 2009, 2010 and 2011 state championship teams.
Clewiston will look to run the ball and sprinkle a bit of play action pass to keep this Cocoa defense off balance. Clewiston will get some early scores but Cocoa will adjust for a huge victory. The winner will advance to the state semifinal against Booker T. Washington or University.
PREDICTION: Cocoa 42, Clewiston 14
KEY PLAYERS – Cocoa: Freddie Booth-Lloyd (Sr. DT, Tulane Commit), James Folston (Sr. ILB, Purdue, Minnesota offers), Chauncey Gardner (So. DB, Miami Commit), Jamel Jackson (Sr. DB, Temple Commit), Lane Burnett (Sr. DL), Tavares Parks (Sr. DL), Lor’renzo Pratt (Sr. RB), Bruce Judson (Fr. QB)
KEY PLAYERS – Clewiston: Derry West (Sr. RB), Tyrone Washington (Jr. RB), Lenorris Gaines (Jr. WR), Davis Witt (So. QB), Kyree Marshall (Jr. LB), Derrick Jackson (Sr. DB)
PALM BAY @ MERRITT ISLAND (5A Regional Semifinals) [UPSET ALERT!]
Merritt Island has traditionally had a strong home record. Palm Bay knows that it’s tough to go to the “O-Dome” and walk away with a victory. With that being said, Merritt Island knows that it’s even harder to beat the same team twice in the same season. Friday night’s rematch will be one for the ages as some are calling it an all out battle of two of the best state powers. This game will be another close game with so much more riding on the line. There is no rematch after this. Look for Sekai Lindsay and an inspired Palm Bay defense, lead by Twonnie Pollard and Reggie Benjamin, to lead the Pirates in the upset victory. Winner advances to the Regional Finals against Jesuit or Lake Wales.
PREDICTION: Palm Bay 20, Merritt Island 17
KEY PLAYERS – Merritt Island: Ty Schwab (Sr. LB Boston College Commit), Shaq Jones (Sr. ATH, South Alabama Commit), Nick Smith (Sr. QB), Johnny Batch (Sr. DB), P.J Kellem (Sr. DB), John Batch (Sr. ATH)
KEY PLAYERS – Palm Bay: Stephon Williams (Jr. LB), Alex Jasmin (Sr. DB), Sekai Lindsay (Jr. RB), Reggie Benjamin (Sr. LB/RB), Twonnie Pollard (So. LB)
TAMPA CATHOLIC @ MELBOURNE CENTRAL CATHOLIC (3A Regional Finals)
MCC won a six overtime thriller 38-37 against Frostproof last week. Tampa Catholic got here by dominating Holy Trinity 52-14. MCC will need a big game from Brandon Ziarno to try and pull this upset. Ziarno has thrown for more than 2,200 yards, 33TDs and only 3 INT’s. He will need to be efficient and keep a loaded Tampa Catholic team off the field. Four-Star recruit and FSU commit Corey Martinez will look to dominate the trenches, and ATH T.J Harrell will be all over the field on offense and defense. Harrell and company will be too much to handle for MCC as Tampa Catholic wins a close game. The winner advances to the State semifinals against Trinity Catholic or Trinity Christian.
PREDICTION: Tampa Catholic 28, MCC 22
KEY PLAYERS – MCC: Max Erdman(Jr. WR), Austin Perlman (Jr. WR), Brandon Ziarno (Jr. QB), Alec LeFlore (Sr.RB), Chase Jackson-Harris(So. RB), Kyle Taylor-Laird(Jr. WR)
KEY PLAYERS – Tampa Catholic: Willie Conley (Sr. DB), Kyle Ploucher (Sr. QB), Justin Mottow (Sr. WR), T.J Harrell (Sr. ATH), Tre Watson (Sr. LB), FSU Commit Corey Martinez (Sr. OL)
MELBOURNE @ PORT CHARLOTTE (7A Regional Semifinals) [UPSET ALERT]
Melbourne will continue to do what has propelled them this far in the playoffs – run the ball and play great defense. Port Charlotte also thrives from a strong rushing game and defense, so this could be a close game for the Bulldogs. If Melbourne’s offensive line takes over and dominates in the trenches this could be a long night for Port Charlotte. Melbourne will need to keep Port Charlotte honest and go deep down field a couple times with Dwane Robinson. Look for Melbourne to pull the upset. Winner advances to Regional Final.
PREDICTION: Melbourne 30, Port Charlotte 27
KEY PLAYERS – Melbourne: Dwane Robinson (Sr. QB), Bryson Hill (Sr. RB), Chris Singh (So. RB)