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Friday's high school football playoff preview



Springstead (11-1) at Armwood (12-0)

Last week: Springstead defeated Gainesville, 27-7; Armwood defeated Jefferson, 52-48

Why you should go: To see if Springstead can upset Armwood, a perennial power. This is Springstead's sixth time reaching the postseason and is the farthest the Eagles have been in school history. In fact, no other Hernando County team has ever reached the third round.

Springstead defeated Gainesville 27-7 last week in the region semis. Springstead's lone loss this year came in a 42-14 season-opening defeat against Citrus. The Eagles avenged that game by knocking Citrus out of the playoffs with a 21-6 win in the region quarterfinals.

Daniel Wright ran for 159 yards on 27 carries and scored a TD against Gainesville. Quarterback Tyler Mahla tossed a pair of TDs against the Hurricanes. Both Mahla and Wright have rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season. The Eagles have recorded three shutouts on the year.

The Armwood defense went through some surprising struggles last week after shutting down most of its 2013 opponents. The Hawks will look to get back on track and continue to get big plays from quarterback Noah Johnson.



Sickles (11-1) at Kissimmee Osceola (10-2)

Last week: Sickles defeated East Bay, 27-0; Osceola defeated Lakeland Kathleen, 28-14.

Why you should go: To see if the Sickles' dream season continues.

Ray Ray McCloud is running inspired right now and has surpassed 2,000 yards this season with 26 touchdowns. He'll face a stout Kowboys defense coming off playoff wins against Lakeland and Kathleen that has yielded only 10 points a game this season.

Osceola has posted three shutouts and held opponents to just one score three other times. If McCloud finds the running lanes clogged, look for QB Isaac Holder to get more passing attempts.



Plant (10-1-1) at Fort Pierce Central (11-1)

Last week: Plant defeated Orlando Dr. Phillips, 24-23, in OT; Fort Pierce Central defeated Manatee, 17-15.

Why you should go: Because Plant is going for its fifth state semifinal in the past six years.

The Panthers needed plenty of magic in escaping a last-second loss to Dr. Phillips — tying the contest at the end of regulation and going on to an overtime win.

The Panthers, owners of four state titles since 2006, will need to avoid turnovers and penalties Friday against a Central team that beat previously unbeaten Manatee last week.



Jacksonville Trinity Christian (10-1) at Tampa Catholic (10-2)

Last week: Tampa Catholic defeated Melbourne Central Catholic, 45-10; Trinity Christian defeated Ocala Trinity Catholic, 48-17.

Why you should go: If Tampa Catholic wins tonight, it may want to send a thank-you card to rival Jesuit.

The Crusaders closed out the regular season with yet another loss to the Tigers three weeks ago. But since then, TC has been dominant, blasting two playoff opponents by a combined score of 97-24.

It's hard to say for sure whether the loss to rival Jesuit alone sparked the Crusaders, but the defense has been solid and running back T.J. Harrell has been potent offensively.

Meanwhile, Trinity Christian comes into the game with its own offensive credentials, scoring 40 points or more in five of its last six contests.

The winner moves on to play for a state championship Dec. 7 in Orlando.

Friday's high school football playoff preview 11/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 3:38pm]
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