Rockledge, Cocoa, Viera, MCC Win, Advance To Next Round of Prep Football Playoffs
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor // November 11, 2017
NEXT ROUND SET FOR FRIDAY NIGHT
ABOVE VIDEO: Rockledege Raiders Coach Wayne Younger talks with Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson after the Raider’s 27-21 playoff OT win vs Palm Bay.
ROCKLEDGE 27 PALM BAY 21 OT
BREVARD COUNTY • ROCKELDGE, FLORIDA — One week removed from their thrilling double overtime win in the Barbecue Bowl against the top-ranked Cocoa Tigers, the Rockledge Raiders needed extra time once again on Friday night to advance in the FHSAA Class 5A-Region 4 Quarterfinal contest with their rivals from the south part of the county, the Palm Bay Pirates.
Playing in front of a packed house at McLarty Stadium and trailing three different times in the contest, the second-seeded Raiders avoided the upset thanks to short touchdown runs by sophomore LaDarius Tennison in the fourth quarter and junior, Jalen Mitchell in overtime, earning a hard-fought 27-21 win.
The Raiders won their sixth straight game and will stay home in Rockledge, at least one more week, as they will host the sixth-seeded Cardinal Gibbons Chiefs from Fort Lauderdale.
The Chiefs upset the third-seeded Jones (Orlando) Tigers 43-30.
Tyreese Lyons, one of the leading rushers in Brevard County twice put the visiting Palm Bay Pirates up by seven in the contest with touchdown runs of three and two yards. Pirates QB Ken McKay also put Palm Bay ahead as he scored from a yard out to give the visitors a 14-7 halftime lead.
However, the Raiders seem to have that something extra in the tank when they need it. Led by senior Florida State commit Jashaun Corbin on the field and head coach Wayne Younger off it, Rockledge is seeking their first state title since winning back to back titles in Class 3A in 2001 and 2002.
The Raiders had a shot to win it in regulation but missed a short field goal with only seconds remaining.
Palm Bay finished 9-3 on the season with two of their losses coming to Rockledge. The Raiders defeated the Pirates 42-6 back on October 13 in Palm Bay.
This was the first time since 2007 the Raiders won a playoff game.
VIERA 55 GAITHER 0
BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA — Not usually one to discuss anything but what happens on the field, Viera Hawks head coach Kevin Mays and his team entered Friday night’s game against the Gaither Cowboys from Tampa with a chip on their shoulder pads.
Gaither head coach Kirk Karsen was quoted in the preview capsule for the game in a local Tamp Bay paper saying, “I know Plant coach Robert Weiner well and was able to talk to him about Viera because he played them last season. Viera seems very undersized. I think we have a great chance to win.”
Coach Mays made sure his team saw it. Mays, who said his team did not have the type of week of practice he hoped, taped the quote to every locker and the results speak for themselves as the Hawks decimated one of the top rushing attacks in the state, beating the Gaither Cowboys 55-0 in the first round of the FHSAA playoffs last night in Viera.
The Cowboys led Hillsborough County with an average of 278 rushing yards per game with Jr. RB Jeromy Reid rushing for nearly 1,200 of them. He averaged one yard per carry on nine first half rushes as the Hawks led 35-0 at the break.
Gaither’s longest run of the night was a fake punt run by fullback Kole Tomlinson that gave the Cowboys a first down at midfield but the continued drive stalled as Viera scored on their next possession.
Viera Hawks Sr. QB Tim DeMorat scored less than a minute into the game when he scampered 12-yards for a 7-0 lead. DeMorat then went to work on the Cowboys secondary picking them apart for three second quarter touchdowns, two to Travis Jones and one to Sean Atkins.
DeMorat’s night came to an end in the third quarter after he found Q.Phillips for a 51-yard TD to put the Hawks up 42-0. The Fordham commit was named the Friday Night Locker Room, Space Coast Daily player of the game as he was nearly perfect on the night connecting on 14 of 15 passes for 315-yards and four touchdowns to three different receivers.
Speaking to a local reporter after the game Gaither head coach Kirk Karsen sang a different tune about the Hawks size.
“They’re a great football team. I underestimated them on defense. They played a lot more physical than I thought they were. The (Viera) quarterback is as good as advertised,” Karsen said.
“I thought the kid at Tampa Bay Tech (Michael Penix Jr.) was probably the best we’d see all year, but (DeMorat) was definitely equal and up to the task. He’s a special football player.”
The second-seeded Hawks will get a chance to host the team that derailed their chances to return to Orlando last season when the third-seeded Plant Panthers visit Brevard County next Friday night.
Last year in the third round of the FHSAA playoffs Plant defeated a banged-up Hawks team, 35-7 on their way to losing to St. Thomas Aquinas in the state championship game.
Plant defeated East River 43-0 to advance to next week’s contest.
MCC 55 FIRST ACADEMY 21
ORLANDO, FLORIDA — The Melbourne Central Catholic Hustlers barely qualified for the 2017 FHSAA playoffs but it wasn’t because the 8-3 Hustlers weren’t a good team or deserving. Seeded fourth in Class 3A Region 2, the Hustlers played as tough a regular season schedule as anyone in Brevard County.
Their opponents combined record this season was 64-33 and the three teams MCC lost to combined to finish 24-4 on the year. They were simply a victim of the FHSAA’s new points system, which needs some tweaking.
The Hustlers traveled to face the top-seeded and undefeated, 9-0 First Academy Royals on Friday night in Orlando and the outcome surprised no one here on the Space Coast. MCC scored on offense and twice on defense en-route to a 55-21 beatdown of the top-seeded Royals.
The Hustlers offensive line of Eric Johanning, Juston Simon, Zach Lane and Victor Caravano opened holes all night long as sophomore running back LaAnthony Valentine rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Senior RB Jeff Scott also had holes to run through as he compiled 70 rushing yards and added touchdown runs of 10 and two yards. Scott also returned an interception 36 yards for a score with 9:49 to play in the game.
Senior southpaw signal caller Joaquin Collazo, who threw six touchdown passes last week, threw for 172 yards and two more touchdowns in the Hustlers win.
The turning point in the contest came in the second quarter with the Hustlers ahead 10-7 and First Academy driving.
Looking for the go-ahead touchdown, the Royals were on the MCC 25-yard line when First Academy quarterback Alex Eleyssami’s pass was deflected and then intercepted at the goal line by Hustler Sr. cornerback Elijah Hardison, who promptly returned it the length of the field, 100-yards, for the MCC touchdown and 17-7 lead.
It was the second time this season MCC has returned an interception triple digits for a touchdown. Zamari Walton returned an interception 106 yards for a TD earlier this year.
The Hustlers would lead by double digits the rest of the way.
MCC will travel to West Palm Beach to play Oxbridge Academy next week. The Thunder Wolves are 8-1 this season and are 46-9 since 2013. Oxbridge defeated King’s Academy 42-7 on Friday night to advance.
MIAMI CENTRAL 42, HERITAGE 6
The Heritage Panthers played tough early as a Nigel Scott 68-yard touchdown pass to Nate Wright tied the game 6-6 in the second quarter. However, Miami Central would go on to score 36 unanswered points for the eventual win. Head Coach Mark Ainsley’s team finish the 2017 season at 6-4 and have a lot of starters returning in 2018 for the district champs.
AMERICAN HERITAGE 42, MERRITT ISLAND 0
The second, third or fourth ranked team in the country, depending on which poll you read, American Heritage Plantation defeated the Merritt Island Mustangs 42-0 in Plantation, Florida Friday night to advance to next round of the FHSAA football playoffs. The defending state champs rushed for 230 yards and led 35-0 at the half to play with a running clock in the second half.
AHP will face the 2015 state champ, Bishop Moore next Friday. Merritt Island finished the season 6-4.
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