Here’s a blog from Justin Barney, the high school sports editor at the Florida Times Union:
Snap judgments from Week 7 of high school football.
Ed White isnot a team you want to take lightly.
Ihadn’t seen the Commanders since the 2012 regular season finale againstSandalwood, a dreary performance for a team that was wrapping up a 5-5,non-playoff season.
Theprogram made a coaching change, firing Terry Gilliam and hiring aformer Commanders player and assistant coach in Paul Pierson.
Whatfollowed was a total remaking of the program, something that playershave talked about since spring. Running back Taylor Thomas and defensiveback Isaiah Belton didn’t play for Whitelast year, but both said on Friday night following a 34-17 rout ofColumbia, that Pierson has given newcomers and veterans good, oldfashioned coaching up.
“Ourcoach, Coach Pierson, he’s brought this whole team closer, he’s stayingon us in school, making sure we’re doing stuff in our classes,” Thomassaid.
Whitehas the benefit of a bevy of talented offensive weapons. Always have.Go back two decades and it’s been an assembly line of productiveballcarriers and enough talent on defenseto be a factor. So what’s been missing?
Pierson said it has been the confidence.
Runningback Javarius Davis said as much before the season began, that whenthings got tough in the past, there was friction and doubt. And all thatit took was a loss or two to set itoff.
Not under this regime.
Withthe Commanders an underdog pretty much around the state (I pickedColumbia by two scores), Davis out due to a suspension after an ejectionin the Mandarin game and the area’s mostpotent running back (Lonnie Underwood) paying a visit, White played itsbest game in a couple of years.
TaylorThomas was wicked good. Belton and Corey Hagans not only both hadinterceptions, but broke up a couple passes. Defensive lineman AveryWilds, only a sophomore, was constantly movingthe Columbia O-line around.
Columbia was the trendy pick for a state semifinals appearance before Week 7.
Lastweek I said the opening round in Class 6A in the First Coast regionwould be White going to St. Augustine and Bartram Trail trekking out toLake City. Not anymore.
I’dsay St. Augustine can begin preparing to host Columbia, a team that hashammered the Yellow Jackets in the state playoffs the past two years,in the regional quarters on Nov. 15.As for White, the first district championship since 2010 doesn’t feellike too big of a surprise to the Commanders.
* Speaking of Bartram,the Bears ended a five-game losing skid on Friday with a 28-17 win overPonte Vedra. Their season will ultimately be defined over the nextthree weeks, District 4-6A games against Creekside, Matanzas and Nease. Idon’t think Bartram gets pushed enough in anyof those three games to lose, although it’s going to be interesting tosee if the neighborhood rival Knights can make a game of it this year. ACreekside win will keep the Bears out of the playoffs.
* Some pretty scary injuries on Friday night, BishopKenny’s Matt Farah left the Crusaders’ game in an ambulance, and CoffeeCounty, Ga. defensiveend Jalen Wilkerson left in a TraumaOne helicopterduring a game at Brunswick. Both had movement; Wilkerson waved to thecrowd as he left the field. Hate to see anything along those lines.
* Speaking of injuries, Columbia safetyTrey Marshall, who ruptured his stomach in Week 2 against Lincoln, wasin the process of being medically cleared to return to the field, coachBrian Allen said on Friday. The Tigers are off in Week 8, but Allenexpected Marshall, a Florida State commit, tobe back on the field in Week 9 against Lee.
* I got a couple tweets about the finish of the Raines-Fletcher game,a wild 16-14 Senators win. Without knowing what the conversation on thefield was between the officials following Carlton Williams’interception return with time running down, your guess is as good asmine, and coach Deran Wiley’s.
Officialsruled Williams committed pass interference on the play, and he wastackled with 7.6 seconds left on the clock, according to our writer.Officials reset the game clock twice- to 15 seconds and then 14 seconds, meaning that’s the time that theyinterpreted Williams’ pick to have been caught.
Whatis not up for dispute: Luke Medlock’s 18-yard touchdown pass to KalifJackson with no time left gave Fletcher an unbelievable, andunexplainable win. Big grab for Jackson. A bigthrow for Medlock. That’s a play those two guys are going to be able totalk about 30 years from now.
Beinterested to speak with both coaches next week about it. Regardless,it’s a game that means nil in the grand picture, unless, of course, youconsider the Gateway Conference trophya major haul. Had this been a district game, that’s another storyaltogether.
* Bolles gaveup 35 points to Plantation American Heritage in the first quarter onFriday night, an eventual 60-21 loss. To be fair, that’s the mostdifficult opponent the Bulldogs will see in the regular season. But therate at which Bolles has allowed points this seasonis alarming.
* TrinityChristian gota wakeup call on Friday, running clocked by TallahasseeGodby, 42-6. IMG Academy comes to town next week. Is there concern forthe Conquerors after such a bad loss? No. Alarming yes, cause for panic,no way. Godby is the top-ranked team in 5A.
Trinitycould finish the regular season, at worst, 6-3, if we say that theConquerors nosedive and lose to IMG and Vanguard in the season finale.In the opening round of the state playoffs,it would see likely Trinity Catholic or Father Lopez. In the followinground, it’s probably a Providence or a Lopez/Catholic.
Thestate semifinals would likely bring a Lakeland Christian a Holy Trinityor a Melbourne Central Catholic. I think Trinity has a clear path tothat semifinal round.
*Great showing by Mandarin,even though it lost to Fort Pierce Central, 31-27. That’s astate-ranked, 7-0 team that the Mustangs took to the wire. Big-timeconfidence jolt for Mandarin, especially with some big district gamescoming into focus.
*I know it was Jackson,and it was a blowout, 59-0First Coast,but the Buccaneers are beginning the put together the kind ofconfidence that can turn this team into a scary one come mid-November.
*John Wolford to Charles Wade,touchdown. Heard that three times last week, heard it three times thisweek. Wolford,an East Carolina commit, has 105 career touchdown passes, third most instate history after passing Miami Central grad Rakeem Cato.
* Ribault over Yulee 20-9puts the Trojans right back in the mix of District 3-5A. Let’s sayKenny and Baker County beat Yulee. Baker County beats Kenny and Ribaultwins out. Three one-loss teams. District tiebreaker, anyone? I’m notconvinced that Kenny will lose at this point unlessthe Wildcats play out-of-their helmet defense and force Wolford and Co.into a ragged game like they did in the regular season last year. Ijust don’t see it though. Kenny has been more consistent this year thanlast.