First Baptist’s undefeated campaign has been a season of firsts — first District 2A-6 championship, first playoff appearance, first Region 2A-3 final and now its’ first road playoff game in the Class 2A state semifinal.
The Lions will make the two-hour drive east to Miami Dade Christian (12-0), leaving the friendly confides of their home turf off of Orange Blossom Drive in Naples for the game at 7:30 tonight.
First Baptist coach Billy Sparacio said he never thought about a home field advantage .
“I just think we have a great opportunity when we play at home, we have great support,” Sparacio said. “I feel like we’re on our church campus, we play 4HG (For His Glory). Our church stands for Christ. I think it’s a great atmosphere for a small school like we are.”
“Our kids are blessed with everything, great fan support, great student body support, parents, the banner and the smoke. It’s just a neat atmosphere to play high school football.”
The Lions hope that support travels.
Sparacio plans to read from the Bible as part of his team’s preparation for tonight’s game.
He opened the Bible positioned on his desk in his office and began to read Samuel 16:7 after Wednesday’s practice.
The verse reads: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'”
“What I want to share with them is that everybody is good,” Sparacio said. “But the team who wants it more and the team that plays with this, their heart. That’s what God looks at, he looks at our hearts. That’s why I want to share that passage with them, it’s not how tall you are it’s not how big you are, both teams have athletes, who’s going to want it more I think will come away.”
The Lions opponents, Miami Dade Christian, are in their first state semifinal since 2006. They can put constant pressure on the FBA defense with senior dual threat quarterback Gary Sampson, the team leader in passing yards and rushing yards with 15 total touchdowns.
Sampson is coming off a 306 all-purpose yards performance in a 20-14 regional final win over Belle Glade Glades Day.
The Crusaders also have a solid defense — allowing 10.8 points per game and shutting out three teams on the season. The teams are the final two undefeated programs remaining in Class 2A.