Quarterback: Eagles coach Robert Craft said he relies on senior quarterback Matt Dobson to run the offense, from pace of play to decision making. Dobson can sling it out of the shotgun (2,309 passing yards, 23 touchdowns) or he can tuck it and run (745 yards, 14 TDs). Dobson was a safety on the 2008 state championship team, so he brings talent and experience. The Blue Jackets split playing time with Kyle Craichy and Colby Robinson during the regular season. Robinson emerged as the full-time starter in the playoffs and hit some big plays in last week’s game against Belle Glade Glades Day. And don’t rule out Rayshawn Jenkins, a multidimensional athlete who could line up at quarterback in the wildcat. But all three quarterbacks have not combined to throw for more than 1,500 yards.
Edge: NFC. Dobson is a dual threat.
Backs and receivers: Jonathan Vickers is only a sophomore, but he has carried the load as the starting running back for NFC with 1,432 yards and 14 touchdowns. Senior fullback Warren Hart isn’t shabby either, with 480 yards and 13 touchdowns. When Dobson throws, he usually looks for junior Branton Lee. Lee has caught 41 passes for 725 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior Travis Rodney and senior Logan Seymour are also used in the passing game. AFA’s Jenkins, who had never started at running back until the playoffs, has been a force with 691 yards combined in three games. Todd Macon, who gets the tough inside yards, was the featured back most of the regular season and has rushed for more than 1,000 yards. Napoleon Maxwell, above, is a capable replacement for either Jenkins or Macon. AFA’s receivers do not have eye-popping stats, but they can come up with a key catch. Jenkins is the biggest threat.
Edge: AFA. The Blue Jackets’ three-headed monster is awfully hard to stop.
Offensive line: This is where the Eagles really excel. They have five senior starters and all five saw plenty of action last year as well. NFC has rushed for nearly 3,000 yards this season and given up only two sacks. Craft said they are not the biggest guys, but their technique and familiarity makes up for their size. The Blue Jackets also are good up front, led by senior Jonathan Jun, a Pinellas County senior all-star selection who switched from center to guard in the playoffs. AFA has rushed for more than 1,100 yards in three playoff games.
Edge: AFA. The Blue Jackets have been mauling opponents in the ground game.
Defensive line: The Eagles rotate about seven or eight players during the game. Senior Caleb Helms and juniors Evan Gentry and Drew Faintich are the leaders up front. Craft said this group has done a good job all season bottling up runners. They will need to do so again to stop Admiral Farragut. In the playoffs, the Blue Jackets defense has improved in large part because of its line. AFA puts its best athletes up front with Jun, Diego Harris and Demetrius Lewis. They all did a good job of containing Glades Day running back Kelvin Taylor in the second half last week.
Edge: AFA. The Blue Jackets were impressive in stopping the run game the past two weeks.
Linebackers: The Eagles have a veteran group on a unit that is versatile enough to stop the run and the pass. Jay Klees is the leader with 100 tackles, three sacks and an interception. Macon and Maxwell are the top guys for the Blue Jackets. Both are adept at stopping the run. But they also have to play both ways so fatigue could set in.
Edge: NFC. Eagles have the depth to let players concentrate on one side of the ball.
Defensive backs: Senior linebacker Dallas Griffiths is a legitimate Division I-A player, according to Craft. He leads the team with 153 tackles. And senior defensive back Travis Blanks is highly touted as well. Sophomore defensive back Tony Fields has more than 100 tackles and five interceptions. And junior cornerback Marcus Clark is dynamic. There is clearly a lot of talent lurking in the Eagles’ secondary. Jenkins is the Blue Jackets’ top player in the secondary. But AFA has given up some big plays through the air and had trouble stopping Canterbury receiver DaSean Thomas two weeks ago.
Edge: NFC. Pass on the Eagles at your own risk.
Special teams: NFC doesn’t kick many field goals (four all season). Dobson handles the punting, but has only had to do it 22 times in 12 games. Clark had a punt return and a kickoff return for a touchdown last week vs. Daytona Warner Christian. The Blue Jackets’ Louis Bobelis has been consistent on extra points but had just two field goals in the regular season. AFA does not have many touchdowns on kick returns, but has players who can score, starting with Jenkins
Edge: NFC. Clark has shown he’s a scoring threat in the playoffs.
Bob Putnam and Rodney Page, Times staff writers