Five things we learned Friday night
1. First round’s pretty predictable. Friday pitted the runners-up from one district against champions from another. The runners-up who did win — Pinellas Park, Jefferson, St. Petersburg Catholic and Tarpon Springs — were mostly expected to, and the champions rolled. If anything surprised us, it was Springstead emphatically reversing an earlier 42-14 loss to Citrus, and Tarpon Springs so completely shutting down Anclote.
2. Clearwater CC might bet gettting serious. After two regular-season losses and a few other wins the Marauders basically slept through, they came out Friday and buried Bishop Verot so quickly the reserves saw action — in the first quarter.
3. East Bay might have some offensive firepower. The Indians beat Gaither 34-14, putting up the most points since a 43-9 win against Lennard in the 2012 season opener. The Indians still didn’t do much through the air — quarterback Chris Carpentier completed just two passes for 13 yards — but East Bay had 244 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns, leading to 20 fourth-quarter points.
4. Don’t lose your cool with so much on the line. Sunlake appeared poised to knock off favored Gainesville, taking a late seven-point lead. Then before you can say “unsportsmanlike conduct,” Gainesville scored twice in less than two minutes to win 17-14. And in Sarasota, St. Petersburg Catholic was the beneficiary of a taunting call. Instead of the game likely heading to overtime, Cardinal Mooney was assessed a penalty on the PAT, which it missed, giving the Barons a 35-34 win.
5. Special teams matter, especially in the playoffs. East Lake might not have advanced to the second round if not for a blocked extra point. Same can be said for St. Petersburg Catholic, which got a 98-yard kickoff return by Jacquan Fuller to start the game against Cardinal Mooney.
By the numbers
75 Points by Lakewood against Hudson. It’s the most points scored in a playoff game since Plant put up 77 against Alonso in 2009, and the most points Lakewood has scored ever.
61 Points allowed by Armwood this season, more than a quarter of which were scored by Venice in the Hawks’ 31-19 win.
22/1 Average margin of victory for East Lake during the regular season, and margin of victory against Palmetto on Friday.
10 Pass breakups by Armwood (four by Nehemiah Miguel and three each by Aaron Covington and Jordan Griffin).
8 Kickoff return touchdowns by Pasco’s Malik Johns the past two seasons, including the Pirates’ only score Friday night vs. North Marion..
Notable performances from Friday night
1. Deiondre Porter, Jefferson: The senior quarterback single-handedly eliminated Largo 25-17. He gained 203 yards on a career-high 32 carries and scored all four of the Dragons’ TDs. He also threw for 128 yards.
2. Ryan Davis, Lakewood: Davis was nearly flawless against Hudson. He completed 13 of 16 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the 75-19 win.
3. Jacquan Fuller, St. Petersburg Catholic: Talk about making an immediate impact. Fuller returned the opening kickoff, and also had 23 carries for 152 yards and three touchdowns.
4. Kevin Newman, Jesuit: A few late miscues had Auburndale suddenly in striking distance late, but the Tigers simply handed off to Newman seven straight times to run out the clock. He finished with a 105 yards and a TD in the 29-21 win.
5. Tyler Mahla, Springstead: Mahla had a pair of rushing touchdowns, then threw a 10-yard pass to Joe Jeffords for his third score of the night, leading the Eagles to an upset of Citrus.
6. Nathan Johnson, Sunlake: The junior had 29 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown, his 10th straight game over 100 yards.
7. Dominic Cuono, Carrollwood Day: In a losing effort, Cuono, a four-year starter, capped his career with his best game — 18 tackles, 11 of them solo.
8. Justin Motlow, Tampa Catholic: We’re beginning to think he might be the most underrated wide receiver ever after another great game — five catches, 156 yards and a TD.
9. Chris Greene, East Bay: The powerful Indian back ran a career-high 29 times for 166 yards, only the second time Greene has carried the ball more than 20 times.
10. Carter Mulroe, Sickles: He’s not the flashiest player, but his blocked punt set up Sickles’ first score, and he stuffed a fourth-and-goal rush to seal the win over Plant City.
11. Chavez Pownell, Jefferson: Had more than 125 yards combined rushing and receiving, including a big catch-and-run on Jefferson’s 95-yard drive to take the lead.
“When your backs are against the wall, you come out swinging. That’s the kind of team we are.’’ — Porter, after his team’s fourth-quarter comeback to beat Largo
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’’ — Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford, after his team racked up 381 yards rushing against Sarasota with its wing-T offense
“No. I’ve still got a passion for it.” — Largo coach Rick Rodriguez, on whether the loss to Jefferson was his last game
“If it had to be anyone, I’d rather it be them than Plant. I’ll take it from them. They’re a great team, and they won’t be done next week.” — Wharton quarterback Chase Litton on Dr. Phillips ousting the Wildcats a third straight season
“No team deserved to lose that game.” — Sickles coach Brian Turner, who said he was outcoached by Plant City’s defensive staff in the Gryphons’ win
• Call Round 2 “Second Chances.” Regular-season rematches feature Jefferson-Armwood, Pinellas Park-East Lake, Tarpon Springs-Lakewood and St. Petersburg Catholic-Clearwater Central Catholic. Can anyone flip the script in the postseason, or will the original conquerors — all playing at home — prevail again?
• Plant will take on Dr. Phillips, which beat Plant 24-7 last year in the second round. It was the first time the Panthers’ season ended that early since 2005.
• Indian Rocks Christian also faces a team that knocked it out of the playoffs a year ago. Naples First Baptist prevailed 42-21 in 2012. Good news for the Golden Eagles: First Baptist quarterback Jonah Bueltel, who proved problematic for IRC to contain last year, has graduated.
• Springstead will host Gainesville. The Eagles haven’t had much postseason success in the past, advancing to the semifinals twice in six appearances since 1993. Gainesville was the 6A runnerup last year. But the Hurricanes certainly aren’t unbeatable, as Sunlake came close to proving Friday night. And Springstead finally shed its home-field playoff curse (now 1-4 at Booster Stadium).
• If Tampa Catholic beats Melbourne Central Catholic, it will be the first time since 2009 — when it lost to Bolles in the state title game — that the Crusaders have advanced past the second round.
• An East Bay win against Sickles would give the Indians a four-game win streak, their longest since closing the 2007 season with four straight victories.
• Can Tarpon Springs win on the road again? Friday’s win over Anclote was the first playoff road win since it beat Boca Ciega in 1986, snapping a string of nine straight playoff road losses.
All games at 7:30 Friday.
Orlando Dr. Phillips (11-0) at Plant (9-1-1)
Pinellas Park (10-1) at East Lake (11-0)
East Bay (8-3) at Sickles (10-1)
Jefferson (10-1) at Armwood (11-0)
Gainesville (9-2) at Springstead (10-1)
Tarpon Springs (8-4) at Lakewood (8-3)
Lake Wales (7-4) at Jesuit (8-3)
All games at 7:30 Friday.
Tampa Catholic (9-2) at Melbourne Central Catholic (11-0)
St. Petersburg Catholic (8-3) at Clearwater Central Catholic (9-2)
Naples First Baptist (10-1) at Indian Rocks Christian (9-3)