Rockledge Takes On Merritt Island in Crucial District Matchup With Huge Playoff Implications
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor // October 20, 2017
Raiders looking to end 8-game skid vs Mustangs
ABOVE VIDEO: Merritt Island hosts Rockledge in a critical district matchup.
BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA — The Friday Night Locker Room and Space Coast Daily Friday night for the “Game of the Week” features Class 5A District 14 rivals, the Merritt Island Mustangs (4-2, 1-1) and Rockledge Raiders (2-3, 1-0) from the O Dome in Merritt Island.
Steve Wilson, Orville Susong, Sam Martello and Alan Zlotorzynski will be on hand with all the action.
The Space Coast Daily / Friday Night Locker Room Kickoff Show, presented by Old School Pizza and Buffalo Wild Wings with Alan Zlotorzynski gets underway at 5:45 p.m. Steve, Orville and Sam begin at 6:30 p.m. with a preview of their game, with kickoff at 7 p.m.
Don’t let the Raiders 2-3 record fool you into believing they aren’t a good team. Rockledge enters the contest as one of the rising teams not just in the county but in all of Central Florida.
The combined record of the three teams the Raiders have lost to this season is 18-1.
In two of those contests Rockledge lost by one score. Their two wins were by a combined score of 96-6 with one of them coming last weekg against district rival they hadn’t beat since 2007, the Palm Bay Pirates.
The Raiders have lost eight straight to the Mustangs and coincidentally haven’t defeated Merritt Island since 2007 as well. However, like the 42-6 thrashing they put on the Pirates last week ending that losing streak, this could also be the year they take down the Mustangs.
ABOVE VIDEO: Friday Night Locker Room Player of the Game, Rockledge Raider Jashaun Corbin, Florida State Commit, accounted for 4 touchdowns and over 150 rushing yards in the Raiders 42-6 win over Palm Bay.
Rockledge is loaded with talent and is arguably the fastest team in Brevard County. The Raiders are blessed with top-notch athletes at the skill positions.
On offense, the running back tandem of Florida State commit Jashaun Corbin and junior Jalen Mitchell have combined to rush for over 1,200 yards and a dozen touchdowns. On defense, Rockledge leans on a stout secondary anchored by Corbin and Mitchell but the stopper is sophomore middle linebacker, Ladarius Tennison.
“Tennison is the best I’ve ever seen at his age play the position and he will do some very special things playing football,” said head coach Wayne Younger.
Tennison, who has offers from Ole Miss and North Carolina, had 10 stops vs. Palm Bay and now has 60 tackles on the year to lead Rockledge in that category. And oh by the way, he can also play runningback as he scored a rushing touchdown vs. Palm Bay.
ABOVE VIDEO: Rockledge sophomore Ladarius Tennison talks about his team’s dominating 42-6 victory over Palm Bay, colleges he is looking at and areas of his game he wants to improve. Tennison had one rushing touchdown on the evening.
MUST WIN FOR MERRITT ISLAND?
For head coach Jeff McClean and the Merritt Island Mustangs, this is not a game they can afford to lose, not that the Raiders can either but Merritt Island has already lost a home district contest earlier this season to rival Palm Bay.
Rockledge beat Palm Bay last week and a Raiders win would significantly hurt the Mustangs chances of returning to the playoffs for a 10th straight year. The days of the district runner-up being an automatic qualifier for the playoffs are over. Under the FHSAA’s new playoff system, only the district winner qualifies for the playoffs while the rest of the teams must get in based on points.
Currently, the Raiders, who leads Class 5A District 14A and the Mustangs, would be playoff teams. The Palm Bay Pirates are just a half point behind Merritt Island, who is the eighth and final qualifying team with 37 points in Region 4.
On offense, the Mustangs are led by their dynamic senior playmaker Deben Peterson. The wide receiver and kick returner has scored touchdowns on offense and special teams. Merritt Island also gets contributions from several key players including running back Sequan Walton who scored on 73-yard run last week versus Titusville.
Defensively, the Mustangs are allowing just eight points per game. In their loss to Palm Bay both Pirate scores were off miscues by the offense. Senior Andrew Beardall is second in Brevard County with 80 tackles this season and sophomore Daythan Peterson has contributed nearly 70 stops.
The Mustangs dropped four straight to Rockledge from 2004-2007 but have since won eight straight outscoring the Raiders 234-83.
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