BELLE GLADE — The road to this town fondly known as "Muck City" runs through small farming communities on State Road 80.
There's little to see flashing through the car window, just small towns, citrus groves and a few sugarcane fields.
Then there are the sights and sounds of Effie Grear Stadium, home to an electrifying team in Glades Central. The Raiders dress it up with tailor-made rap songs and chants, a nice backsplash to the dazzling aerial show and concrete defense.
In short, Robinson's playoff path ended right here, stuck in the muck on a chilly, rainy night. It ended with a 33-0 loss to Glades Central, which advanced to the Class 2A state final next week against Cocoa.
"We came down here with great expectations," Robinson coach Mike DePue said. "We were a little overwhelmed in a couple phases of the game. It just didn't happen. We're going back to the weight room."
Glades Central (13-0) compiled 355 yards of total offense. Quarterback Leron Thomas completed 11 of 18 passes for 217 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
He jump-started the offense on the very first play, a 44-yard pass to 6-foot-8, 215-pound junior Kelvin Benjamin. Two plays later, the Raiders cashed in on 23-yard pass from Thomas to Gregory Dent for a 6-0 lead.
Robinson (10-3) got its best scoring chance in the first quarter. The Knights moved the ball to the Glades Central 21. A pass from Blake Rice to receiver Byron Pringle went incomplete in the end zone.
On fourth down, the Knights benefited from a pass interference call to get to the 11. But a fumble on the next play by Frankie Williams ended the threat.
Then in the second quarter, Thomas lifted the Raiders to a 13-0 lead on a 12-yard pass to Demetrius Evans. Glades Central added one more just before halftime, an 8-yard pass from Thomas to Dent, for a 19-0 lead.
"It was 6-0 for a long time," DePue said. "This is one of the most talented teams I've seen in a long time. It's the best team we've faced all year."
Glades Central's defense was rough all night, holding the Knights to 19 yards of total offense. The Raiders registered 10 sacks led by end Robert Way, who broke the school's season record with his 21st.
With a sound defense, the Raiders scored two more times, a 33-yard run by Antwon Cisholm and a 38-yard pass from reserve quarterback Alanda Shaw.
"Nobody expected us to be in the state semifinals," DePue said. "We're a year ahead of schedule.
"We'll be fine."
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 421-3886.