Sunday, January 21, 2018

Alonso sophomore QB faces tough first test against Jefferson


If Alonso High School coach Brian Emanuel is concerned about having a sophomore quarterback lead his offense, he isn't letting on.

But Friday (Aug. 30), when the Ravens line up in their season-opener against visiting Jefferson, the 6-foot, 165-pound Chris Oladokun will be charged with leading his offense, and Alonso, back into playoff contention.

"Chris is a puppy, but we'll have help for him. It won't be all on his shoulders," Emanuel said.

Among the playmakers surrounding Oladokun are senior running back Ish Witter, senior wide receiver Marcus Mosley and senior wide receiver Brandon Robinson, who caught a touchdown pass from Oladokun in last week's preseason loss to King.

The Ravens should know where they stand pretty quickly against a solid Jefferson defense.

"We've got six offensive linemen back, we've got improved special teams and we've got great leadership," Emanuel said.

In other opening-night matchups, Chamberlain hosts Gaither, Sickles plays at Robinson and Carrollwood Day School hosts defending Class 2A state champion Jacksonville University Christian. Leto is off.

All kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., unless noted.

Jefferson at Alonso

Last week: Jefferson defeated Plant City 48-26; Alonso lost to King 20-18.

Why you should go: Besides watching the Ravens' offense, fans will also get to see how Alonso's defense handles the Jefferson offensive machine. Jefferson quarterback Deiondre Porter threw for 250 yards and four touchdowns in last week's exhibition game.

Gaither at Chamberlain

Last week: Gaither defeated Wharton 21-9; Chamberlain lost to East Bay 46-20.

Why you should go: To see if Gaither QB Alex McGough is as good as advertised. The Florida International University commit threw for three touchdowns against a solid Wharton defense last week. Chamberlain will rely on the backfield tandem of Dakarai Highsmith and Nick McNeal while trying to establish some continuity under new coach Cam Jones, the team's offensive coordinator last season.

King at Freedom

Last week: King defeated Alonso 20-18; Freedom lost to Bloomingdale 30-14.

Why you should go: Because King and Freedom may be better than you think. The Lions moved the ball up and down the field last week in their preseason win against Alonso. King running back Greg Thompson may be in for a big night against Freedom's defense. On offense, the Patriots can run the ball as well, churning up 200-plus yards on the ground last week.

Middleton at Berkeley Prep

Last week: Berkeley Prep defeated Gulf 23-7; Middleton lost to Strawberry Crest 33-0.

Why you should go: To see which unit of Berkeley coach Dominick Ciao's team is better — offense or defense. Buccaneers quarterback Brad Mayes tossed two scoring passes last week while Berkeley Prep's defense was stingy.

Plant City at Steinbrenner

Last week: Plant City lost to Jefferson 48-26; Steinbrenner lost to Sunlake 8-6.

Why you should go: Just when the thinking surrounding Plant City was all defense, senior quarterback Landon Galloway goes out and throws for 235 yards and two touchdowns and runs for another 85 against a good Jefferson defense. The Steinbrenner defense will need to be up to the challenge to avoid a long night.

Sickles at Robinson

Last week: Sickles defeated Tampa Catholic 34-20; Robinson defeated Osceola 51-6.

Why you should go: If you like offense, this is where you want to be tonight. For Sickles, Ray Ray McCloud does it all. He ran for 200-plus yards and three touchdowns and added a punt return and a kickoff return for scores to account for all of the Gryphons' touchdowns in a 34-20 win against Tampa Catholic. Robinson, meanwhile, counters with a pair of quarterbacks: Darius Autry and Travis Forehand. The duo rotated to combine for 176 yards passing and three touchdowns in warmup play.

Spoto at Wharton

Last week: Wharton lost to Gaither 21-9; Spoto did not play due to weather.

Why you should go: To see Wharton QB Chase Litton with the reins off. Litton, who has offers from LSU, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Massachusetts and Toledo, completed just six passes for 36 yards last week while playing only one half. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder likely will improve on those numbers Friday against a unit that gave up an average of 27 points a game last season.

Cambridge Christian at Bell

Last week: Cambridge was off; Bell defeated St. Francis Catholic 60-21.

Why you should go: To find out exactly where Bell is. It's 42 miles west of Gainesville and a little more than two hours by car from the Cambridge campus. When you get there, you can watch Bell running back Austin Ritchey, who ran for 312 yards and five touchdowns in the Bulldogs' tuneup game last week.

Jacksonville University Christian at Carrollwood Day School, 4 p.m.

Last week: CDS defeated Imagine School 23-8; University Christian lost to Highlands 47-17.

Why you should go: To get a look at defending Class 2A state champion University Christian. The Christians are coming off a 47-17 loss at Highlands, the third-ranked preseason team in the state of Kentucky. For CDS, meanwhile, coming off its first-ever playoff appearance, it's a chance to get an up-close look at a perennial small-school playoff program.

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