SPACE COAST DAILY SPECIAL EDITION: Brevard County High School Football Playoff Preview
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor // November 25, 2016
MCC, VIERA AND COCOA look to advance FRIDAY
PALM BAY VS. BISHOP MOORE PLAY-BY-PLAY:
WATCH REPLAY: Space Coast Daily’s and FNLR’s Zach Clark and Alan Zlotorzynski were on the call for play-by-play coverage of the Palm Bay vs. Bishop Moore playoff game, heard here on Space Coast Daily.
COCOA VS. JONES PLAY-BY-PLAY:
Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson and Orville were on the call for play-by-play coverage of Cocoa vs. Jones, heard here on Space Coast Daily.
FRIDAY’S PLAYOFF GAMES
VIERA 0, PLANT 0 – 7:30 Kickoff
MCC 0, CHAMINADE-MADONNA 0 – 7:30 Kickoff
COCOA 0, BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 0 – 7:30 Kickoff
ABOVE VIDEO: Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson talks with Jay Hawkins of the No. 1 ranked Cocoa Tigers after their win vs Jones. Hawkins was the FNLR Co-Player of the Game.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – And then there were three…
The last time three Brevard County teams played the day after Thanksgiving, the results did not favor the Space Coast teams.
On November 29, 2013, “Black Friday’ took on a brand-new meaning for the three Brevard County teams that advanced to play three weeks into the FHSAA playoffs.
On that day, the Cocoa Tigers, Merritt Island Mustangs and Heritage Panthers all advanced to play in the third round of the FHSAA high school football playoffs.
For Cocoa, it was the third consecutive season facing the Booker T. Washington Tornadoes in the Class 4A state semi-final game and the result was the biggest margin of victory in the five games, a 49-10 Tornado win.
Merritt Island took a 7-0 first quarter lead on Lake Wales but went onto lose 34-23. The Heritage Panthers fell the hardest, 54-3 to Central from Miami.
If there was any consolation in losing, it was the that both Heritage and Cocoa lost to the eventual state champs.
HUSTLERS LOOK TO ADVANCE TO FIRST-EVER STATE FINAL
This week the Melbourne Central Catholic Hustlers, The Viera Hawks and for the tenth consecutive season, the Cocoa Tigers will all play the day after Thanksgiving, black Friday.
The Hustlers will face the Chaminade-Madonna Lions in the Class 3A state semifinals. Coming off a state record nine overtime win against Clearwater Central Catholic; the Hustlers are home for the third straight week.
Chaminade-Madonna enters the contest after defeating powerful Oxbridge Academy last week. The Lions offense scored 30 points on a Thunder wolves defense that didn’t allow more than seven points in any game this season and pitched five shutouts.
One of the top passers in central Florida will need to be on top of his game. Junior Joaquin Collazo passed for 2,116 yards with 26 touchdowns in 10 games.
The balanced attack of MCC on both sides of the ball will be key. On offense, the Hustlers had four players with 300 yards or more rushing, including Collazo, who rushed for 424 yards and two more touchdowns.
On defense, MCC is led by linebacker Cam Rivamonte. The junior led the team and finished in the top five in the county with 116 tackles. Ten of those were for a loss and he also chipped in with one interception.
ABOVE VIDEO: As a junior, Brandon Ziarno spoke with Giles Malone of Space Coast Daily as he was the Space Coast Daily player of the week for September 13, 2013. Ziarno, now playing quarterback at Florida Tech, will join Alan Zlotorzynski and Zach Clark for the broadcast Friday night between MCC and Chaminade- Madonna.
The job of containing Lions signal caller Henry Colombi, who finished with 2,100 all-purpose yards and 21 total TD’s falls on the shoulders of defensive lineman Jovan Simon (8.5 sacks) and defensive backs Nate Fleming and Zamari Waton (5 combined INT’s).
Coach Stacy Sizemore preaches one play at a time and if MCC is to advance to Orlando in two weeks, they will need to be razor sharp and ready to play every down vs. Chaminade Madonna.
But MCC appears to be a team of destiny. How else would you explain winning last week’s thrilling 69-62 win, despite falling behind by 21 during regulation and turning the ball over twice and missing an extra point during the nine overtimes.
Like Viera last year, the possibility exists that MCC’s toughest game could have been last week in the semifinals but coach Sizemore won’t allow his team to think any other way than one play at a time and right now the Hustlers are just 48 minutes away from heading to Orlando.
Alan Zlotorzynski, Zach Clark and former Hustler signal caller and current Florida Tech Panther’s quarterback, Brandon Ziarno, will be on the call for the Friday Night Locker Room which can be seen on Space Coast Daily TV via Facebook Live and SpaceCoastDaily.com.
PREDICTION: MCC 41, Chaminade-Madonna 34
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME:
For the Cocoa Tigers. The elephant in the locker room of the Cocoa Tigers since 2011 has been Booker T.
The Tigers have lost this game five straight years and been outscored 157-63 in the process. It is important to note that Booker T has gone on to win the Class 4A state title in each of the last four years, losing to Bolles from Jacksonville back in 2011.
For Cocoa, this is perhaps their best shot at dethroning the Tornadoes.
Led by senior quarterback and South Florida commit Bruce Judson, the Tigers are loaded in the backfield. Much was made to start the season about players that played elsewhere in Brevard County last season.
What is seldom talked about has been the unselfish nature of young players that are generally thought of to be selfish at this stage of their young careers.
The goal for LeSedrick King (Heritage), Javian Hawkins (Astronaut), Bradley Canaire (Astronaut), C.J Bartley (Heritage) and several other transfers became very simple once they put on the black and orange – win a state championship.
Being a leader in a particular statistical category had to be put aside, having your name at the top of the list for certain honors could no longer be a consideration. Everyone bought in and the results were immediate.
An opening week home win on national TV over one of the top ranked teams in the state and country and playing the top ranked team in the country tough on the road the in Las Vegas the following week showed that indeed the young men were on board.
Cocoa finished the season 10-1 and rushed for 3,158 yards. King led the way with 863 rushing yards while three players, Timmy Pratt, Bruce Judson and Javian Hawkins each rushed for more than 600 yards.
As a team, Cocoa is averaging 287.1 yards per game on the ground.
This week they face a team that essentially goes as their star players go, sophomore quarterback Daniel Richardson and senior RB Craig Nelson. After struggling most of the season, Booker T. has been prolific running the ball the past three games as Nelson has run for 115 yards or more.
Great teams peak at the right time and last season, following a tumultuous 5-5 regular season, Booker T. peaked and routed Cocoa on its way to a Dade County-record fourth consecutive state title.
Booker T seems to be peeking again, at least their defense is, after allowing 110 yards per game over the course of the season, they have tightened up and are holding ball carriers to 62 yards over the past five games.
Steve Wilson and Orville Susong will be on the call for the Friday Night Locker Room and Space Coast Daily from Tigers Stadium. You can hear the game on SpaceCoastDaily.com or on the radio at WPIO 89.3FM and WEJF 90.3FM.
PREDICTION: Cocoa 23, Booker T 14
VIERA CAN ADVANCE TO SECOND STRAIGHT STATE SEMIFINAL
The Viera Hawks football program blossomed last season.
In search of their first ever playoff win last November, the Hawks, led by Space Coast Daily and Friday Night Locker Room co-offensive players of the year, QB Hayden Kingston and WR Tre Nixon, won four of them before falling in the state championship game in Orlando.
They weren’t supposed to be good enough to beat perennial state playoff powers Lakeland and Columbia but they did and at times dominated in both contests. The Hawks were supposed to take a step back this year after losing so many great offensive players but they didn’t.
Instead, their record improved, their defense, better than last season’s, stepped up until the offense caught up and low and behold Viera is back in the Class 7A regional semifinals Friday night vs. Plant.
The task at hand is as tough as Viera’s had to face in their brief playoff history, including last year’s state championship game vs St. Thomas. The Plant Panthers are the No.1 ranked team in The Brighthouse Sports (Spectrum Sports) poll in the Tampa area.
Viera QB Tim Demorat is white hot. After last weeks performance of 527 yard and five touchdown performance least week, the junior signal caller now has 2,321 pass yards, 22 TD and just eight INT’s this season.
His receiving corps is balanced and fast. Travis Jones (27 receptions, 563 yards, 6 TD), Quinton Richard (35 receptions, 441 yards, 4 TD), Sean Atkins (32 receptions, 354 yards, 4 TD), and Donovan Jackson (26 receptions, 350 yards, 2 TD) are all threats to have a big game.
The running game is also blossoming, with Keith Freeman (334 rush yards, 6 total TD), Brennan DePlancke (332 rush yards, 3 TD), and Jarin Lewis (182 rush yards, 3 TD) sharing the workload.
The defensive line feasts on quarterbacks as the Hawks are aggressive up front. Junior Miguel Rodriguez has 91 tackles this season and an incredible 26 sacks. Seniors Marco Foreman (68 tackles, 12 sacks), Jaylin Wilson (72 tackles, 11 sacks), and Justin Harrison(8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles) will create havoc if Rodriguez can’t.
Junior star middle linebacker Brandon Mays enters the contest with 107 tackles and offers from Ole Miss, Columbia, and Yale.
The focus for Viera’s stout defense will be stopping Lions quarterback Dane Frantzen.
— cindy (@mamakissel) November 19, 2016
ABOVE VIDEO: Lions QB Dane Frantzen never backs down from a challenge.
The senior has been amazing this season. He’s passed for 1,943 pass yards, 27 TD with only four 4 INT”s and he completes 70 percent of his passes. Frantzen is equallly as dangerous on the gorund as he led the Lions team with 1,221 rush yards and 17 more TD’s.
Defensively, Plant pitched four shutouts in 2016 and allowed 119 points (17 PPG) in seven other contests. They are led by arguably the best linebacking trio in the country in Thomas Allen , senior Davis Bak , and sacks leader Micah McFadden.
They combined for 310 total tackles with 105 of those for a loss of yards.
The Hawks are underdogs heading to Tampa but they were last year at home vs Lakeland in this round and then on the road in Lake City vs Columbia last year—-but the Hawks prevailed convincingly by a combined score of 66-37.
PREDICTION: Viera 44, Plant 38
The top high school football teams in Central Florida, as selected by the Bright House Sports Network.
1. Cocoa (9-1) – After surviving a challenge from Jones, the Tigers will matchup with Miami’s Booker T. Washington in the 4A state semifinals for the sixth consecutive season.
2. Mainland (11-0) – C.J. Wilson rushed for three touchdowns to help the Bucs reach the regional finals for the sixth straight year.
3. Seminole (11-0) – ‘Noles got past Lake Brantley 48-41 in a thriller that produced six lead changes in the fourth quarter.
4. Dr. Phillips (10-2) – Suffocating Panthers defense forced six turnovers in a 21-0 victory against Sarasota Riverview.
5. Viera (9-2) – Hawks nearly allowed a 33-point halftime lead to slip away but forced a late turnover to get past Martin County 53-45.
6. Bishop Moore (11-1) – Hornets buzzed out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and hung on to beat Palm Bay 21-14 to advance to the region finals for the third straight year.
7. Winter Park (9-3) – Wildcats defense recorded three interceptions in the first half en route to a 35-21 victory against Timber Creek.
8. Melbourne Central Catholic (11-0) – Hustlers outlasted Clearwater Central Catholic 69-62 in the first ever nine overtime game in Florida high school history.
9. South Sumter (10-1) – Raiders blasted Dunnellon 43-8 and will travel to Jacksonville to face undefeated Bolles in the 4A state semifinals.
10. Apopka (9-1) – Blue Darters were ranked No. 1 in Class 8A before a stunning 40-39 home loss to Timber Creek.
11. Orange City University (8-2) – Titans are 24-6 on the field the last three years but haven’t made the playoffs in any of those seasons.
12. Palm Bay (10-1) – Pirates went undefeated in the regular season but couldn’t overcome a 21-0 first quarter deficit in a second round playoff loss to Bishop Moore.
13. Jones (9-2) – Both losses for the Tigers came at the hands of Cocoa.
14. Osceola (10-1) – Kowboys streak of four straight seasons getting to at least the state semifinals was snapped Friday night as Treasure Coast upset the Kowboys 28-27.
15. Wekiva (7-4) – Mustangs missed a chance for their first ever postseason victory by committing four turnovers in a 30-21 loss to Winter Park.
16. Lake Brantley (7-5) – Patriots had the lead in the final minute of second round playoff game against Seminole but couldn’t hold on for a victory.
17. Spruce Creek (7-4) – Hawks got to the postseason for the first time since 2008 but fell short in a first round playoff loss to Lake Brantley.
18. Hagerty (9-2) – Historic season for the Huskies included setting a school record for victories with nine.
19. Timber Creek (8-4) – Wolves advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012 but lost to Winter Park in the region semifinals.
20. Ocoee (7-4) – Knights won their first ever district championship but got blasted by Bartram Trail 52-13 in the first round of the playoffs.
CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY SPORTS