Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Carol City And Lake Gibson Title Preview

     The Carol City Chiefs head on the road for the fifth consecutive week and challenge the Lake Gibson Braves for the FHSAA Class 6A state title at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday. The Miami Central Rockets had won the 6A crown for the last four years.
     Carol City(10-3) was a runner-up in their district and had to play four road games to get to this point. The Chiefs slammed Dillard 47-8 in a regional quarterfinal, upset Northwestern 34-27 in a regional semifinal, surprised Mainland 34-7 in the regional final and blanked Charlotte 39-0 in the state semifinal. They have outscored their last five opponents 199-42. Carol City is looking for their first state title since 2003 and fifth overall.
     The Chiefs can execute numerous plays with Marlon Smith as quarterback. Running back Camron Davis will get most of the carries from the backfield. Smith intends to find wide receivers Kevaughn Dingle and Terrence Horne for receptions.
     Lake Gibson(13-0) is undefeated and has played several close games in the playoffs. They edged Hillsborough 21-14 in a regional quarterfinal, got by recent three-time state finalist Armwood 18-15 in a regional semifinal, squeezed by Vanguard 14-13 in a regional final and took Navarre 35-14 last week in the state semifinal.
      The Braves will rush the ball with many carries by running back Travell Jones. Quarterback Kevaris Thomas looks to connect passes with wide receivers M.J. Link, Antonio Denson and Chris Howard.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Flyers Outlast Panthers In Overtime

     The Florida Panthers were edged by the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in overtime at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. The Panthers lost in the overtime period for the second straight night. It was the final game of a six-game road trip for the Cats.
     Florida(12-11-4) waited until 4:20 left in the first period to take the lead 1-0. Aleksander Barkov performed a give-and-go pass with Mark Pysyk in the high slot. He backhanded the puck from the high slot to Pysyk above the top right circle and he returned a cross-ice pass. Barkov then released a wrist shot from the left circle by Steve Mason for his fifth goal of the season.
     The lead did not last that long as Philadelphia(15-10-3) tied the contest in a 4-on-4 situation with 2:53 to go in the first. Andrew MacDonald brought the puck up the ice from behind his own cage and sent a lead pass to Wayne Simmonds in the neutral zone. He skated by the Panthers blue line and snapped a shot from within the blue line past James Reimer.
     In the second period, the Flyers pulled ahead on the power play at 10:08. Simmonds collected his second goal of the game when he redirected a slap shot by Claude Giroux from the top left circle. South Florida native Shayne Gostisbehere was credited with an assist on the play.
     The Panthers answered back with 4:46 remaining in the third period to tie it at 2-2 as Jussi Jokinen converted his second goal of the year. Colton Sceviour placed the puck to Michael Matheson on the right wing and he advanced it toward the net. He backhanded it to Jokinen who lifted a shot in from the crease area.
     The Flyers wrapped the contest up with 8.6 seconds left in overtime. Giroux poke-checked the puck away from Matheson in the slot area and Jakub Voracek scored on a snap shot from inside the right circle.

St. Thomas Aquinas And Plant Title Preview

     The St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders look to make history when they face the Plant Panthers on Friday night in the Class 7A state championship at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Both schools have fielded top-notch football programs for over a decade.
     St. Thomas Aquinas(11-2) looks to become the second Florida high school to win double-digit championships and the first Broward County to win three straight state titles. STA has captured six state championships on the same field in the last nine seasons which includes the last two FHSAA Class 7A titles in 2014 and 2015. The Raiders, who have not lost a state title game since 2006 versus Lakeland, had blowout victories at home against Palm Beach Lakes 35-0 in a regional quarterfinal and Dwyer 37-0 in a regional semifinal. They went to Miami and pounded Mater Academy 50-10 in the regional final then returned home last week and blasted Venice 46-8 in the state semifinal. 
     Raiders quarterback Jake Allen calls the signals and will guide the team on offense. He has a slew of wide receivers to pass the ball to which includes Michael Harley, Jordan Merrell, Joshua Palmer and Jonathan Moore. Running backs Michael Epstein and Kyshaun Bryan will split the carries between them from the backfield.
     Plant(13-0) enters the game undefeated and moved down in classification from 8A to 7A in 2015. The Panthers have not won a state title since they captured the Class 8A crown in 2011. They have been the home game in every round of the playoffs this year. Plant routed Winter Haven 59-6 in a regional quarterfinal, edged Lakeland 25-21 in a regional semifinal, topped 2015 state finalist Viera 35-7 in a regional final and defeated Robert E. Lee 27-19 in the state semifinal last week.
      Quarterback Dane Frantzen looks to implement the offense for the Panthers. Their rushing attempts will be done by running backs Ty Thompson, Kyle Trina and Tobin Snead. Wide receivers Whop Philyor, Christian Watson, Juwan Burgess, David Scroggins and Trina can make receptions from Frantzen.

American Heritage And Ponte Vedra Title Preview

     The American Heritage Patriots challenge the Ponte Vedra Sharks for the FHSAA Class 5A state championship on Friday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Both schools come into this contest with undefeated records.
     American Heritage(13-0) are seeking their third Class 5A state title in the last four years. They did capture the state championship in 2013 and 2014. This will be the second time in three weeks that the Patriots will travel from Plantation to Orlando so travelling a long distance won't be a factor. They dethroned the defending state champions Bishop Moore on the road 20-7 in the regional final and returned home to beat Jesuit 21-14 in the state semifinal last week. They had home wins over Fort Pierce Westwood 55-12 in a regional quarterfinal and Cardinal Gibbons 10-7 in a regional semifinal.
     The Patriots can run out of the option with quarterback Jason Brown along with running backs Abraham Alce, Jordan Johnson and Miles Jones. Brown intends to find wide receivers Laress Nelson, Dontavius Butler, Jones, Josh Alexander and Darnell Fleury as passing targets.
     Ponte Vedra(13-0) hosted their first three playoff games with victories over Yulee 51-19 in a regional quarterfinal, Ribault 35-32 in a regional semifinal and  Rickards 31-20 in a regional final. They went on the road and stopped Clay 52-42 last week in the state semifinal.
     The Sharks also execute out of the option with quarterback Nick Tronti and running backs Hal Swan and Zach Walton. Tronti will look for wide receivers Marshall Few, J.D. Pirris and Jake McGuire along with Swan on passing plays.

Pahokee And Baker Title Preview

     The Pahokee Blue Devils take on the Baker Gators in the FHSAA Class 1A state title game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Thursday. Both schools are undefeated as they enter this contest.
     Pahokee(13-0) won five state championships in a six-year stretch including capturing three consecutive titles from 2006 until 2008. They dropped in classification from Class 3A to Class 1A in 2015. The Blue Devils gained more confidence heading into the playoffs as they won the Muck Bowl for the first time since 2007 with a 27-14 victory over local rival Glades Central. All three of their playoff games have been played at home. They barely got by Newberry 35-34 in overtime during the regional semifinal, knocked off the defending Class 1A state champions Trenton 47-28 in the regional final and edged Madison County 21-19 in the state semifinal. 
     The Blue Devils are led on offense by quarterback Tyrone Smith. Running backs Rodney McKay, Jim Travis Gray and Jarvis Blackman will get their share of carries from the backfield. Smith looks to connect passes with wide receivers Tyron Arnett and Adarius Dent along with tight end Zatavian Morgan.
     Baker(13-0) had a tough path to get to the title game with their first playoff game at home and their last two games on the road. They blasted Cottondale 56-6 in a regional semifinal, defeated Graceville 21-14 in a regional final and slipped by Blountstown 20-19 in a state semifinal.
     The Gators will put more emphasis on the run than the pass. Running backs Junior McLaughlin, Jalen Ciurleo, Jayson Moore and quarterback Kalee Ciurleo can rush the ball at anytime. Wide receivers Derek Peoples Jr. and Logan Rickmon look to make receptions from Ciurleo.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bruins Get By Panthers

     The Florida Panthers were stopped by the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime at TD Garden on Monday night. It was the fifth game of a six-game road swing for the Panthers who lost their first game this season during the overtime period.
      It was not until late in the first period when Boston(15-10-1) took the lead. Tim Schaller dropped the puck from the left corner to David Krejci behind the Panthers cage. He connected a pass to Schaller in the low slot for a one-time shot by Roberto Luongo with 1:28 left in the first.
     Jaromir Jagr evened the contest 1-1 midway through the second period for Florida(12-11-3) at 9:44. Mark Pysyk slid the puck from the top of the zone to Aaron Ekblad in the low left circle. He softly pushed a backhand pass to the slot area where Jagr snapped a shot past Tuukka Rask for his fifth goal of the season and 754th NHL goal.
     The Bruins regained the lead with 3:23 remaining in the frame. Patrice Bergeron put a slapshot on goal which was saved by Luongo. Brad Marchand did a spin move to the right side of the net and fed David Pastrnak for a quick shot from the low slot.
     The Panthers answered back again at 7:54 of the third period to tie it 2-2. Reilly Smith poke-checked Bergeron off the puck in his own left defensive circle. Aleksander Barkov got to it and blasted a slapshot from the high slot for his fourth goal of the year.
     The B's moved out ahead for the third time in the game with 6:52 left in the third period. David Backes put in a tally with an assist from Ryan Spooner.
     The Cats erased the deficit on a third occasion with 1:29 to go when they pulled the goalie for an extra attacker. Michael Matheson fired a slapshot from the left point that bounced off the back wall and Jason Demers skated in from the right circle and put in the puck from the low right circle.
     Boston picked up the game-winning goal at 1:23 of overtime. Krejci backhanded a pass from the blue line ahead to Pastrnak. He raced around Matherson in the left circle, delayed his shot at the top of the crease and then lifted a shot in for his second goal of the contest.

Chaminade-Madonna And Trinity Christian Title Preview

     The Chaminade-Madonna Lions face the Trinity Christian Academy Conquerors in the FHSAA Class 3A state championship on Saturday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. One school has been a constant in the state title game for the last couple of years while the other school has not reached the top of the mountain in a while.
     Chaminade-Madonna(10-3) are looking to win their first state title since 2005 in Miami when they received the Class 2A crown. The Lions bounced back this season following two consecutive years of being a district runner-up and losing their opening playoff game. They blanked Cardinal Newman 42-0 in a regional semifinal, got by Oxbridge Academy 30-13 in a regional final and then went on the road to beat Melbourne Central Catholic 42-17 in the state semifinal.
     The focus on the Lions offense is running back and Auburn University commit Shaun Shivers. He can score at anytime from any distance of the field and has shown it in their playoff push with three long touchdown runs against Cardinal Newman plus five touchdown runs versus Melbourne Central Catholic. Quarterback Henry Columbi looks to run the ball with the option and pitch the ball out to Shivers or their other running back Kyondre White. Columbi has several targets to throw the ball to which includes wide receivers Xavier Williams, Joshua Ali, Brandon Lee, Marlin Mayo and tight end C.J. Williams. 
     Trinity Christian Academy(10-3) are the defending three-time FHSAA Class 3A state champions and attempt to capture their fourth consecutive title in this classification. The Conquerors had dominant victories of more than 19 points over American Heritage in their last two state title games. Their playoff path has included three blowout home wins as they routed Taylor County 64-16 in a regional semifinal, pounded Florida State University 38-7 in a regional final and blasted Berkeley Prep 41-9 in the state semifinal.
     Quarterback duties for the Conquerors will be split between Legend Brumbaugh and D.J. Matthews. Running back Rasheed Martin is expected to get most of the carries on offense while Marcus Crowley and Kyjuan Herndon can see some rushing occasions. Their wide receivers core has Matthews, Shaun Wade, Farell Turner, Isaiah Washington and Dylan Pate.