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Playoff football: Profiling the home teams

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Thu. November 27, 2014 | Kelly Parsons and Bob Putnam

Playoff football: Profiling the home teams

Region finals

7A: Fort Myers (12-0) at East Lake (12-0)
Winner plays: Royal Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas champion
Know the foe: Fort Myers, which is in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, won its first postseason games at home. But the Green Wave has not fared well when it has to travel, losing eight straight road playoff games dating to 1992. Fort Myers running back Terrance Moore has rushed for at least 100 yards in a school-record 16 straight games. 
Key stat: This is the second straight week East Lake has faced an undefeated opponent. Last week, the Eagles beat previously unbeaten Braden River 37-21 in the Class 7A region semifinals. 
Key matchup: Fort Myers’ running game vs. East Lake’s linebackers. The Green Wave, has a consistent running game that has helped it score 512 points this season. The Eagles’ linebacking trio of Jake Hansen, Carson Lydon and Dylan Renaker are among the best in the bay area and are a big reason the team has allowed an average of 10 points per game.
Audible: “Fort Myers is a good team. They’re big up front and have a lot of great athletes. This is a big test for us.” — East Lake coach Bob Hudson
Prediction: East Lake, 24-21

5A: Gainesville (7-5) at Armwood (12-0) 
Winner plays: Jacksonville Ed White-Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee champion
Know the foe: Quarterback Caelan Christian is the key to the Hurricanes’ offense. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior has thrown for 2,262 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 378 yards and five scores. There are four Hurricane receivers with at least 300 yards receiving, and Dock Luckie leads the way with 689 yards and nine touchdowns (he did not play last week against Sunlake after rolling his ankle). Defensively, the Hurricanes are giving up 22.6 points per game, and senior safety Henry Montgomery leads the team with 159 tackles. 
Key stat: The Hurricanes averaged 173.5 yards receiving in the regular season, while Armwood gave up an average of just 60 through 10 regular-season games.
Key matchup: Gainesville’s receiving corp vs. the Armwood secondary. Armwood has given up more yards through the air than on the ground, so the Hurricanes could have some success with a pass-heavy offense. Luckie, who will be a game-time decision after injuring his ankle, averages 16 yards per reception, and Gainesville has scored 23 total passing touchdowns. Cornerback Aaron Covington has held down the Hawks’ secondary, recording five interceptions and forcing a pair of fumbles. 
Audible: “They’re very balanced with the running the and throwing. The quarterback is much better than we thought. He throws a very good ball and he’s very patient with the rush. Their offensive line and defensive line are solid, but not enormous bodies.” — Armwood coach Sean Callahan
Prediction: Armwood, 24-7

State semifinal

3A: Delray Beach American Heritage (10-1) at Clearwater Central Catholic (11-1) 
Winner plays: Lakeland Christian-Jacksonville Trinity Christian champion 
Know the foe: American Heritage has won three state titles, the last coming in 2011. This year’s team is favored to win another. After losing to Miramar in the season opener, the Stallions have won 10 straight, including victories against Glades Central and Plantation American Heritage. Trenard Davis, Warren Robinson and Devin Singletary are all capable of breaking off long runs in a potent run game. 
Key stat: With quarterback Jeff Smith out with a sprained ankle, CCC scored just 14 points in last week’s win against Cardinal Mooney, the lowest total of the season.
Key matchup: Heritage’s high-scoring offense vs. CCC’s improving defense. Before last week’s 23-7 win over Miami Westminster Christian, the Stallions had scored 40 points or more in seven straight games. The Marauders had to replace nine starters on defense at the start of the season but the unit keeps improving. In the past seven games, CCC has allowed an average of 15 per game, and that includes the 50 points given up in a loss to IMG. In last week’s win over Cardinal Mooney, the Marauders came up with three second-half stops inside the red zone.
Audible: “American Heritage is a pretty dang good team. We’re going to have to have a lot of things go our way to have a chance.” — CCC coach John Davis
Prediction: American Heritage, 35-21

We profiled our road teams earlier in the week. Catch up here.

Photo courtesy of the Gainesville Sun. 

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