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Justin Barney's blog on the Week 2 playoff games

8:15 AM, Nov 23, 2013   |    comments
Florida Times-Union high school sports editor Justin Barney
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Snap judgments after Week 2 of the high school football playoffs.

Can we say, unbelievable?

You could pick any number of words from the adjective bucket to describe the second week of the postseason and have it fit.

It was better than advertised.

* Bottom line: Six area teams are left heading in to the regional finals (5A-8A) and state semifinals (1A-4A) next week.

Class 8A: Apopka (11-1) at First Coast (11-1)

Class 7A: Fletcher (10-2) at Niceville (11-1)

Class 6A: Choctaw (9-3) at Bartram Trail (7-5)

Class 5A: Pensacola Catholic (12-0) at Clay (8-4)

Class 4A: Florida High (8-4) at Bolles (9-3)

Class 3A: Trinity Christian (10-1) at Tampa Catholic (10-2)

* Let's start with the surreal final score of Clay 74, Bishop Kenny 73.

It's on its way towards being national news.

First thing you think of when you see that is, 'basketball score.' Twitter thought it. I got a few emails from people around the state asking if it was legit. Maybe one of the wildest, most memorable games ever played, or that will ever be played, on the First Coast.

Some numbers to think about from this one.

* It was 48 minutes of football. No overtime.

* 63 combined first downs.

* 1,472 yards from scrimmage.

* Bishop Kenny's 834 yards against Clay rank eighth nationally, according to the National Federation of High Schools.

* Three players from Clay rushed for 143 yards or more.

* The combined point total (147) is a state record for points scored in regulation, according to state football record keeper and historian, Buddy Collings of the Orlando Sentinel. 

* The 73 points is the most scored by a losing team. The previous high was 62 by Clearwater Calvary in a 63-62 loss to Indian Rocks Christian. That total (125) was also the highest combined score in state history. 

* Kenny QB John Wolford accounted for 773 yards and 10 TDs, which is a national record, according to the NFHS. 

* And the winning touchdown was scored with 10 seconds left by a running quarterback in Wes Weeks who enjoyed a pretty good night of his own throwing the ball.


* I spoke with Clay coach Josh Hoekstra a little after 12:30 and he was spent. Said it hadn't sunk in yet. Hoekstra said he'd never been this worn down after a game, which is obvious coming off of an emotional marathon that lasted nearly four hours.

What's left to say?

"I'm so proud of my guys and the way they hung in there," he said. "Our offensive line was just dominant tonight."

Dominant to the tune of 489 yards rushing on 60 carries. The bulk of those yards went to RBs Bilal Ally (20 carries, 187 yards, 2 TDs) and Shannon Asbell (19 carries, 143 yards, 5 TDs). QB Wes Weeks went for 161 yards on 16 carries, with his second TD of the game a 10 yarder with 10 seconds to play, ultimately deciding it.

Through the air, Weeks was 8 for 9 for 149 yards, the lone incompletion a dropped pass, Hoekstra said.

I thought Clay's four-back rotation (Asbell, Ally, J.T. Turner and Colin Wilson) and the ability of Weeks would give Kenny trouble, but in no realm of forecasting did I see the Blue Devils dropping 74 on what has been a very-much improved defense.

When a run-centric team scores 74 points on you, that's not only a Herculean effort by the guys toting the ball, but the maulers clearing the path for them.

My suggestion to the star runners, Asbell-Ally-Turner-Weeks and Wilson this week: Take your offensive line out to breakfast, lunch, dinner, something. The guys up front get props for this one.  

* Plenty has been written and is yet to be written about the career of Kenny QB John Wolford, but his performance Friday in the loss to Clay was beyond comprehension. Three state records fell in Wolford's assault - Tim Tebow's marks for total TDs responsible for (Tebow had 158; Wolford finished with 162), total yards (Wolford is just over 13,400) and career passing yards (he surpassed Jefferson's Quentin Williams' mark of 10,384).

Wolford tallied what looks like a national record 773 yards of offense (539 passing, 234 rushing). The National Federation of High Schools list the category with just two entries: Lexington, Texas QB Kogan Garrett (616 total; 483 passing, 133 rushing) and Clopton/Elsberry, Mo. QB Scott Kroeger (613 total; 429 passing, 184 rushing).

"You know how good John is, he was on another level tonight," Hoekstra said. "We had a hard time tackling him and Charles Wade."

* The game that did go into overtime, actually double OT, was the Bolles and Raines thriller, won 35-28 by the Bulldogs.

If you're a Bolles fan who has watched this team get drummed on occasion this year, what a feeling it must have been on Friday to see things come together the way they did. Hard interior running by Christian Bermudez. Hobbled WR Tyrell Moorer playing at probably 45 percent on a bad ankle. Dexter Carter Jr., less than full-strength with a balky knee with a 50-yard TD catch and the eventual game-winning TD run. Joe Edden making two of the biggest throws he's ever made, both to TE Nick Reinschmidt. Defensive lineman Michael Cassidy all over the field.  A freshman, Ahman Ross, picking off a Raines pass in the end zone. You name it, the playmakers for Bolles can be sliced any number of ways. 

If you were at the game and a Raines fan, I know the first thing you say is about the penalties. Fair enough. There were a lot of those, and magnified at when a few of those came. I counted 20 total (13 in the first half) and quite a few of those killers. Two erased lengthy touchdowns for the Vikings.

Take those out of the picture though and you had a game with two teams slugging it out in a good ol' football game. As bad as those flags were, Raines has to be pretty dang pleased that it muscled back. With a fantastic drive in the final 2 minutes, 42 seconds, the Vikings were right back in the game. Needing a TD and a two-point conversion to tie, it got it from QB Marvin Zanders, and another TD and a two in the first OT.

Edden countered with a beautiful throw to Reinschmidt and the Bulldogs clocked in the PAT. Had Raines not lost the fumble on Zanders run toward the end zone, the Vikings would have gone for two and potentially won the game.

* Bartram Trail goes on the road and knocks off Columbia for the second time in three years, 29-24.

Yes, it's an upset, and no, it's not an upset. When you see a 10-1 state-ranked team in the bracket (Columbia) and a 6-5 squad (Bartram), that's the upset factor. 

But when you look at the entire picture it's not as staggering as it comes off. 

It was for this game alone that Bartram scheduled a difficult stretch of games to open the season. Columbia had done a number on the Bears in the playoffs last year. The thinking on Bartram coach Darrell Sutherland's part was that he wanted the Bears ready for their second season and the difficult teams it would see right out of the gate. So the Bears front-loaded their schedule with out-of-district games against Bishop Kenny, Fleming Island, Seabreeze and Gainesville Buchholz, and its constant thorn-in-the-side, St. Augustine. That resulted in an 0-5 start, the worst in program history.  

That second season essentially began in Week 8 when the no-margin-for-error stretch began. Bartram KO'd Creekside, ripped Matanzas and topped Nease to earn its playoff ticket. Now the Bears are one win away from playing in just the third state semifinal in program history.

Give plenty of credit to the skill-position guys. QB P.J. Blazejowski continues to be the motor that drives Bartram, and RB David Coleman continues to get better and better. But the Bears will play again next week largely because of how well its defense has performed in the postseason. It locked down Ed White last week (99 total yards) and limited the damage that Columbia did in the second half, the spot in the game where its physicality tends to show. RB Lonnie Underwood had 125 and a couple scores, but the Bartram defense did not let him take over the game like he did against St. Augustine in Week 1 of the postseason.

* University Christian's hope of defending its Class 2A state championship is done after a 28-14 loss at North Florida Christian. Didn't see that one coming at all. Had you shown me 28-14 early Friday night I would have sworn it was UC's defense buckling down and stifling NFC. Turns out it was the other way around. 

* Trinity Christian obliterating Trinity Catholic 46-17 is about what I expected. Larcenous defense of the Conquerors had three picks. Super 11 WR Isaiah Ford caught three TD passes from Jacquez Riles. Heck, Riles only threw five passes and four of them went into the end zone. No surprise at all. Trinity Christian of the 904 is the best team in 3A, and I don't think it's close. Of course, I said the same thing back in 1999 and the Conquerors got to Gainesville and lost 6-0 to Frostproof in the Class 2A state championship game. That offense in '99 was banged up, and while very good, was one-dimensional.

Not this one.

* Fletcher playing two hours away from home is getting pretty comfy for the Beach Rats, who beat Oak Ridge 28-21.  

The Senators roared back from a 14-0 deficit in the second quarter with four consecutive TDs, two of those from RB Mareek Pitts in the fourth quarter. Special teams again played a big role, with Malik Reaves' 15-yard punt return for a TD at the end of the first half the highlight of those big plays.

Until they lose on the road (7-1 away from home these past three years) the Senators have got to be considered an even-money pick to advance. Even next week's lengthy road trip to Niceville isn't that scary.

* First Coast goes on the road and ends Lake Mary's perfect season.

QB De'Andre Johnson accounted for five TDs - three rushing, two passing - and the Buccaneers won their first playoff game away from home in program history.

You'll hear a lot about this matchup in the coming week, but a regional final on Black Friday against Apopka is the collision of styles. The Blue Darters are a machine on the offensive side of the ball; the Buccaneers have a defense stacked with college-bound prospects.

Buckle up for that one.

Florida Times-Union

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