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Justin Barney's high school football blog from Week 11

12:46 AM, Nov 10, 2013   |    comments
Florida Times-Union high school sports editor Justin Barney
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Snap judgments after the final week of the high school football regular season. 

* After 11 weeks of the regular season, the 2013 football season is in the books and we're into playoff mode. Before we launch into the postseason discussion which will last until mid-December, a quick sendoff to the 2013 regular season before we dive into playoff talk. 

* The Northwest Classic remains one of the best events in the area. I don't care if you don't like football, the atmosphere remains one of the top environments in area sports. If you missed it this year, do yourself a favor and get out there next year.

Raines controlled the second half, winning 40-25. Defense is what tilted the scales in this one. The Vikings controlled the line of scrimmage as good as they have all season.

Raines still has issues on offense - turnovers. QB Marvin Zanders threw three interceptions, although one of those was off of a high deflection at the line of scrimmage. His third pick came right after a 66-yard run down inside the Ribault 15.

I had a straight angle on that throw and it was as bad of a pick as I've seen this year. Zanders said after the game that as soon as it left his hand he cringed.

"I don't know what that was, that was on me. As soon as I threw it I threw up my hands, I knew it was bad," he said.

The Raines defense went right back out and forced a turnover on downs, sacking Ribault QB D.J. Gillins on a fourth-and-2 play, its seventh sack of the game.

 * It will be interesting to see what next week brings with the Raines offense. Two intricate pieces of the offensive line will be back on the field together for the first time since the preseason. Solomon Kinley and Travaris Dorsey, who was held out of Saturday's game, will be back in the lineup, coach Deran Wiley said. Kinley is a kid who Wiley has gushed over since last year. He hurt his knee in the kickoff classic and has been out since. I know Zanders and especially RB Alex Gardner, have circled next week as something special.

* Rivalry week concluded. Bragging rights are as follows: Palatka 23, St. Augustine 20, 3 OT; First Coast 39, Ed White 21; Yulee 14, West Nassau 13; Fleming Island 42, Orange Park 0; Columbia 35, Suwannee 7; Clay 37, Middleburg 22; Atlantic Coast 13, Mandarin 7.

 * Really liked what I saw from Ribault defensive end Marvin Maddox on Saturday, and his ability to get around the tackle.

* Really liked what I saw out of QB De'Andre Johnson and RB Jaha McCray, both of First Coast, in Friday's win over Ed White.

* Palatka's 23-20 triple OT win over St. Augustine on Friday ended a losing streak to the Yellow Jackets that began in 2004.

* Week 11 losses that I don't put much stock into: Niceville over Bolles, 42-31; First Coast over Ed White. The one that I do think carries a little more weight is St. Augustine's loss to a good, physical Palatka team, especially with Columbia (9-1) visiting the nation's oldest city next week. St. Augustine's quality wins at this point are: Menendez (7-3), Clay (6-4) and Bartram Trail (5-5). Other than that, they've mopped the floor with some marginal county teams, clubbed Ridgeview and Matanzas and got taken apart by Trinity Christian way back in Week 1.

The Yellow Jackets are very good. They're 8-2. Very well-coached. Solid young QB. Big-play WR. I'm just curious how they'll fare against a Columbia team that has dined on some pretty solid out-of-district teams (Gainesville, Lincoln, Suwannee). That Palatka loss amped up my intrigue in this game much more than it was, and I already liked it as the area's game of the week.

* Gateway Conference's top three teams: First Coast (9-1, 7-1 in Gateway); Fletcher (8-2, 6-1 in Gateway) and Raines (8-2, 5-1 in Gateway).

* Heard from our writer covering the Parker-Sandalwood game Friday that it was an absolute mess. The Saints hammered the Braves 58-8, a contest that saw four Parker players tossed. Be curious to see the officials' report on that game, and if it warrants further punishment. Per the FHSAA rulebook, policy 30.2.2.1, a school can be assessed administrative probation if four student-athletes receive any level of suspension during the course of a season, in addition to being fined $100 per suspension.

* To clarify a tweet that I sent out last week, Sandalwood coach Adam Geis said that DE Rashayne Robinson, who was removed from a Week 10 game against First Coast, was only removed for that game, and not ejected.

 

And now a look at a few superlatives from the regular season.

* The unbeaten: Two of them, Bishop Kenny (9-0) and Fleming Island (10-0).

* The beaten: Dubious seasons get mentioned, too. Seacoast Christian (0-7), Eagle's View (0-9), Stanton (0-10), Jackson (0-10).

* The tough-break award: Baker County goes 7-3 and is home for the postseason. It's the second time in three years that 7-3 hasn't been good enough for the Wildcats. That record last year kept Sandalwood home from the postseason. In 2011, the Saints went 8-2 and stayed home for the playoffs.

* The offensive honor roll: Baker County WR Mike Boone, Bolles Ath. Dexter Carter Jr., Sandalwood QB D.J. Davis, Ribault QB D.J. Gillins, First Coast QB De'Andre Johnson, St. Augustine WR Lashaud Lockwood and QB Cole Northrup, Columbia RB Lonnie Underwood, Kenny WR Chuck Wade and QB John Wolford, Fort White RB Travaris Williams.

* The defensive honor roll: Sandalwood LB Kain Daub, Atlantic Coast DL Traevaris Ferrell, Baker County DE CeCe Jefferson, Ribault LB Jakob Johnson, Raines DB Carlton Williams, and flip a coin on a variety of guys from First Coast and Trinity Christian.

* The letdown I didn't see coming: Ponte Vedra's 2-8 season. After going to the regional finals in 2011 and cranking out a 9-2 year in 2012, I did not see eight consecutive losses and a winless showing in District 4-5A.

* Something to build off of going into 2014: Baldwin moving up from 1A to 4A and going 4-6. Englewood finishing 3-7. Paxon going 3-7. Mandarin at 5-5 under first-year coach Brian Braddock.

* I asked readers a question last week about who they'd want leading their offense in crunchtime of a playoff drive, your team trailing and facing an 80-yard field with no timeouts left and 47 seconds to play.

The quarterbacks I listed were the top 11 in my opinion among the 22 area playoff qualifiers.

Bartram Trail's P.J. Blazejowski, Bishop Kenny's John Wolford, Bolles' Joe Edden, First Coast's De'Andre Johnson, Fleming Island's Mike Scarnecchia, Providence's Augie Debiase, Raines' Marvin Zanders, Ribault's D.J. Gillins, St. Augustine's Cole Northrup, Sandalwood's D.J. Davis or Ed White's Eric Vickers.

Among all of the responses I received, tweets, emails, voicemails, text messages, three guys dominated the correspondence - Johnson, Scarnecchia and Wolford.

And out of those three, Johnson was the clear-cut choice among the responders. Tough to put a vote total out because quite a few people ranked players 1, 2 and 3. Conservatively, I'd say 60 percent of those who responded said Johnson.

The overwhelming reason: He's done it before.

That's no knock on the aforementioned guys. I'd be happy to plot out a final drive with any of those 11.

* And now, we dive in to the playoff conversation. With the pulse of 22 area programs beating going in to Week 12, how does it all shake out?

The question I'm asked the most - will we have a state champion this year, and if so, where? I won't throw out predictions this early in the game (I've got to save something for the weekly prediction blog) but you can read between the lines.

 

Class 8A

The teams: First Coast and Sandalwood.

The obstacles: The Saints get a difficult Lake Mary squad in the opener. The Buccaneers get Lake Brantley. Manageable, but a potential regional final against the buzzsaw that is Apopka likely awaits.

The verdict: No local team left after regional final.

 

Class 7A

The teams: Fleming Island and Fletcher.

The obstacles: Tricky, but winnable openers for both teams, Fletcher at Winter Springs and Fleming against Oak Ridge. But both locals could win and would face each other in round two. A regional final against a Niceville or a Tallahassee Lincoln is where it toughens up.

The verdict: No local team left after regional final.

 

Class 6A

The teams: Bartram Trail, Columbia, Ed White and St. Augustine.

The obstacles: One another. After the opening round, this number will be cut in half. We're guaranteed one team in the regional final against a Panhandle team.

The verdict: Legitimate shot at state semifinals for an area program.

 

Class 5A

The teams: Bishop Kenny, Clay, Palatka and Ribault.

The obstacles: As is the case in 6A, this number goes down by half each of the first two rounds. We'll get one local team in the regional final, with its opponent likely Tallahassee Godby or Pensacola Catholic.

The verdict: Legitimate shot at state semifinals for an area program.

 

Class 4A

 

The teams: Bolles, Bradford, Fort White, Keystone Heights, Raines.

The obstacles: Barring something wacky, Bolles and Raines will meet in Round 2. Fort White will face Taylor County or Florida High. We're guaranteed one local team (Bolles or Raines) in the state semifinal, and could potentially have two facing off, much like last year when Bolles and Yulee slugged it out.

The verdict: One local team will play for a state title, likely against the winner of what should be a colossal regional final between University School and Miami Washington in the bottom half of the bracket.

 

Class 3A

The teams: Providence and Trinity Christian.

The obstacles: We could very easily see these teams meet up in the second round.

The verdict: One local team will play for a state title, perhaps against Clearwater Central Catholic.

 

Class 2A

The teams: Harvest Community and University Christian.

The obstacles: This feels like a relatively simple class to forecast locally. South Daytona Warner Christian is likely to be waiting one of our area teams in the state semifinals. Who comes out of the South?

The verdict: One local team will play for a state title, maybe against a Belle Glade Glades Day or a Champagnat.

 

Class 1A

The team: Union County.

The obstacles: What should be a winnable opener will likely lead back to a second-round game at Dixie County, which has to be considered a state semifinalist favorite now.

The verdict: No area team left after regional final.

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