WATCH REPLAY: Brevard County Teams Play-By-Play High School Football Week 2 Playoff Action
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor // November 18, 2017
WATCH GAMES LIVE ON SPACE COAST DAILY TV
Cocoa 63, Avon Park 7
Plant 22, Viera 18
Cardinal Gibbons 19, Rockledge 14
Oxbridge Academy 32, MCC 7
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Watch Live as Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski calls the play-by-play of the Rockledge vs. Cardinal Gibbons Class 5A second-round playoff game.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Watch Live as the Friday Night Locker Room’s Orville Susong, Steve Wilson and Sam Martello call the play-by-play of the Viera Hawks vs. Plant Class 7A second-round playoff game.
ABOVE VIDEO: Space Coast Daily from Old School Pizza with a preview of tonight’s high school football playoff games. Guest picker is Josh Denton, owner of Old School Pizza.
This is a developing, Stay Tuned…
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The second round of the FHSAA Playoffs begin tonight and the four teams everyone thought would be here from Brevard County are still standing tall.
Three of the four will host games tonight and the fourth, MCC will travel to West Palm Beach to play their opponent.
CLASS 3A: No.4 Melbourne Central Catholic Hustlers (8-3) at No.2 Oxbridge Academy (8-1)
Players To Watch: MCC Joaquin Collazo QB, (1,240-22) LaAnthony Valentine RB (859-11), Lorenzo Hardy WR (763-14), Zamari Walton ATH (8 INT, 321 Rec YDS, 3 TD’s), Joel Morris LB (118 Tackles)
Players To Watch: Oxbridge Academy V’lique Carter DB, (Iowa St committed yesterday), Keidron Smith DB (Ole Miss, Duke, Louisville & Georgia Tech), C.J. Smith DB (leaning Oklahoma), Charles (gio) Richardson Duel Threat QB
The Hustlers offense and the Thunder Wolves defense provides football fans a good old fashion strength on strength matchup in this Class 3A Region 2 showdown.
The Hustlers love to throw the football. Sr. QB Joaquin Collazo has over 4,000 passing yards and 60 touchdowns in the last two seasons and if the Hustler are going to get past Oxbridge Academy, Collazo may have to have his best game of his young career.
In just their fifth year of varsity football, Oxbridge Academy is already a powerhouse and this year possessed one of the best defenses in the entire state. Led by three Top 150 college recruits and four potential D1 commits in the defensive backfield alone, the Thunder Wolves have allowed just 46 points in nine games and last week held King’s Academy to only 54 offensive yards and three first downs.
MCC will not be afraid and showed a state-ranked team last week that they aren’t a one-dimensional team. The Hustlers can run the football and not just enough to soften a defense up to open passing lanes. They can run the ball to win games. Last Friday night sophomore running back LaAnthony Valentine rushed for 200 yards and two scores while senior Jeff Scott added 90 more yards and another TD.
The Hustlers wouldn’t mind however if Collazo found WR, Lorenzo Hardy (14 TD’s in 2017), his favorite target a few times in the end zone. Two weeks ago, the pair collaborated on five of six Collazo’s touchdown tosses.
For all the talk about the Thunder Wolves defense, their offense carries its weight. Last week after a slow start they exploded for 35-second-quarter points, as they pounded out 317 rushing yards and five touchdowns as a team. The formula in West Palm Beach is simple, ground and pound until the opposition can’t take it anymore.
The Hustlers have been prone to costly mistakes at times and that cannot happen vs The Thunder Wolves. MCC doesn’t have to be perfect on Friday night to win but it wouldn’t hurt their cause. While many here on the Space Coast know how good the Hustler are, a win in West Palm would be an upset.
While this is a strength on strength matchup how the teams opposite unit’s fair may decide the game. MCC’s defense has been playing very well of late but in the three games against teams of comparable competition, Buford, Georgia, Bishop Moore and South Fork, Maryland– the Hustlers allowed 37.6 points per game.
Against teams of comparable competition to MCC, Oxbridge Academy scored 13, 42 and 18 points or 24 points per game. The Hustlers will likely need to put up at least 28 to win and that’s only 18 less than the Thunder Wolves allowed all season.
The task is a tall one but if anyone can pull the upset it is MCC.
Alan’s Prediction: MCC 31, OXBRIDGE 30
CLASS 4A: No.2 Avon Park (10-1) at No.1 Cocoa Tigers (10-1)
The Cocoa Tigers rushed for 600 yards and beat the Avon Park Red Devils 51-8 in this same game two years ago in the FHSAA playoffs. Many of the players the endured that tough night for Avon Park return for this year’s matchup.
The Tigers are coming off a 63-8 dismantling of Lake Placid while Avon Park defeated Lake Highland Prep, 34-17 last week to advance.
Avon Park also faced Lake Placid the week before Cocoa played them, as the Red Devils also handed the Dragons 47-16.
This is a game that may have been cause for concern for Cocoa had they not lost to Rockledge. Although a coach will never admit a loss is a good thing, losing to the Raiders may have been a blessing in disguise. After 42 straight wins, and nine-plus years of not losing to a Brevard County team, complacency can’t set in on even the best of teams.
The Red Devils are like the Raiders and could still pose a problem for the defending Class 4A state champs. They run the ball averaging 277 rushing yards per game and attack the backfield on defense allowing just 11-points per contest this season. Avon Park’s Thurlow “Rocketman” Wilkins rushed for 155 yards per game and last week rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns in their round one win. It was the fifth consecutive game in which Wilkins had 100 plus rushing yards.
Just as the dangerous Rockledge backfield has more than one back so does Avon Park. Senior ball carrier and Central Michigan hard commit Montrae Braswell fell just 11-yards shy of 1,000 this season and had 154 yards and two touchdowns last week.
On defense, the Tigers stout O-line will need to know where another Braswell is, defensive end Dah’Quan Braswell, who registered three sacks last week.
Without Louisville commit Jay Hawkins last week the Tigers turned to Willie Gaines and Willie did what Willie does best, make big plays. The junior scored three touchdowns and had 97 yards rushing to lead the Tigers offense which finished with 200 rushing yards as a team.
This game could be similar to the Jones home playoff game last year for Cocoa. In that contest, Cocoa stormed out to a big lead and then were forced to hold off a tough Tigers (Orlando) team that really tested Cocoa late. The Tigers of Brevard County held the Tigers of Orlando 36-30. The Red Devils are a good enough team to advance to play on Black Friday.
However, getting past the Tigers in Cocoa is something not many expect to happen, myself included.
Alan’s Prediction: COCOA 47, AVON PARK 27
CLASS 5A: No.2 Rockledge Raiders (9-3) Vs. No.3 Cardinal Gibbons (10-1)
Last week: Rockledge 27, Palm Bay 21 (OT); Cardinal Gibbons 43, Orlando Jones 30
If you’re paying attention this week on social media, the Raiders are 2-to-1 underdogs in every poll. That plays right into the hands of head coach Wayne Younger and his Rockledge Raiders.
Doubt them and you pay the price. Ask Cocoa, Merritt Island and Palm Bay – twice.
The on-line “experts” say Cardinal Gibbons has too many athletes. They possess several Top ESPN300 D1 recruits in players like Athlete Carlos Sandy, duel threat junior QB Nick Scalzo, Pittsburgh hard commit, defensive back Marquise Williams and several others.
The Raiders won’t tell you about their two Florida State commits in Jashaun Corbin and Antoine Green or mention running back Jalen Mitchell is heading to play at USF and they won’t tell you Ladarius Tennison will likely have visited every SEC school by the time he graduates in 2020—that’s right, he’s just a sophomore.
Rockledge intends to show up and as Younger likes to say, “Do their jobs” and see what happens. For the last six weeks that means a Rockledge win.
After losing three of their first four games, the Raiders have won six straight games by a combined score of 230-65. Four of those six wins were against Brevard powerhouses Merritt Island and Cocoa. The victory over the Tigers ended the Tigers nine year 42-game winning streak against Brevard County teams and they also beat Palm Bay twice, which is never easy with a great coach like Dan Burke at the helm.
Rockledge strength of schedule is the second toughest in all of Class 5A behind nationally ranked American Heritage Plantation, whom Cardinal Gibbons lost to by just four points.
The Raiders are on a roll, peaking at just the right time. They will need to continue to play well against a Chiefs defense that allowed just seven points per game and pitched four shutouts in 2017. On five occasions they allowed just six points and only twice did an opponent score in double digits.
Cardinal Gibbons lost in the kickoff classic this season to Melbourne Central Catholic, 35-33 but that was a long time ago in August. Back before the Raiders put it all together to make a run that could lead to only their second win in a playoff season since they last won the state title in 2002.
The Raiders need to be wary of Cardinal Gibbons special teams. They have blocked six punts this season and ran three of them back for touchdowns. They also possess a good a kicker in senior Griffin Cerra. Last week against Jones, Cerra booted five field goals including ones from 45 and 48-yards. On the season Cerra’s converted 27 attempts.
Rockledge won’t panic, they trailed three times to Palm Bay and they won’t beat themselves. The Raiders will have a fight on their hands tonight but playing in front of a town that epitomizes “Friday Night Lights” at the moment and having so many playmakers to turn to when needed, I like the Raiders to advance.
Alan’s Prediction: ROCKLEDGE 28, CARDINAL GIBBONS 23
CLASS 7A: No. 2 Viera (8-1) vs No. 3 Plant (10-1)
With their only loss to the defending Class 4A State Champ Cocoa Tigers in double-overtime, the Viera Hawks have had a magical season and tonight they will look for revenge from last year’s loss at Plant 35-7 which ended the Viera Hawks season one game short of the state championship game.
The Hawks enter playing great on both sides of the ball at the right time of the season.
Viera QB Tim Demorat has been extremely efficient this season by boasting 21 passing touchdowns, while only throwing four interceptions on the year. Add a 63-percent completion percentage, it’s no wonder how Viera has gotten to where they are this season and what they can do this postseason.
The Hawks defense has been lights out all year. For example, heading into tonight’s game, Viera has caused headaches for opposing quarterbacks by averaging over six sacks a game, with 58 sacks total on the year.
If that is not impressive enough, the defense has only given up two touchdowns in the past month (Oct. 13).
Plant hopes history repeats itself tonight when they take on Viera. Plant has had a very solid season with their only loss to undefeated Armwood 27-7 (Oct. 16). Since then, the Panthers have averaged nearly 50-points a game, while only giving up an average of 13-points a game.
Plant’s Dual-Threat Quarterback Jordan McCloud has shown the ability this season to be efficient through the air when needed and elusive in the ground game when needed. In fact, with over 300 rushing yards on the year, McCloud is averaging 7.5 yards a carry when he scrambles.
If Viera is going to win tonight, the Hawks defense must get to McCloud and make him make quick decisions. Averaging a 56-percent completion percentage, that is an area the Hawks can expose.
Alan’s Prediction: VIERA 37, PLANT 31
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