Three Brevard County high school football teams remain in the playoffs, and three coaches whose teams played against them like their chances on Friday.
Cocoa will play Miami Booker T. Washington in the state semifinal round for the sixth year in a row, while Viera and Melbourne Central Catholic face new challenges. All three teams play at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. For the Tigers and Hustlers, a win will earn a spot in a state championship game.
BTW has beaten Cocoa five years in a row, but the last game played at Cocoa Stadium came down to a 2-point conversion. Rockledge coach Wayne Younger faced the Tigers in Week 11 of the regular season, and he thought the Cocoa linemen were key to the team’s success.
“I think up front, on both sides of the ball, they’re a tough bunch,” Younger said. “Even though they had Jawaan Taylor (now a Florida Gators lineman) last year, this is a very strong line.”
Cocoa also has more offensive weapons on the roster than it has had in a few years, but Younger pointed to the line of scrimmage as the key to beating the defending champion Tornadoes in the 4A playoff bracket.
“In football, if you can control the line of scrimmage, you’re going to give yourself a good chance of winning,” he said.
Martin County coach Chuck Kenyon’s Tigers played Viera twice this year and twice last year, when the Hawks went all the way to the 7A final. He saw differences in the 2015 and 2016 teams, but he was complimentary of both.
“They’re good at what they do. They play with a hunger in them,” he said. “I think they’re still firing on all cylinders. They did a really good job on getting where they wanted to be, and I think now they’re maintaining that.”
Last year’s Hawks defeated Lakeland in a regional final and then won their state semifinal game in Lake City against favored Columbia. This year won’t be easier.
“Tampa Plant is a very tough place to go in and play, but at this stage of the game, everybody is on a level playing field. Obviously, to go up to Lake City last year and win in that environment, they’re battle-tested.”
Holy Trinity coach Nate Hooks, whose Tigers play MCC each year, labeled Clearwater Central Catholic as a favorite to make the state final before the season began, so he took note of the Hustlers’ 69-62, nine-overtime win from last week.
“To beat Clearwater Central Catholic is impressive,” he said. “That team is loaded. I thought Clearwater was the hump they had to get over.”
This week’s 3A semifinal opponent, Chaminade-Madonna, also got over a sizeable hump, eliminating No. 1 Oxbridge Academy, but Hooks gave the Hustlers a shot at moving on again.
“I think they have a chance,” he said.
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Friday’s high school football games
All games at 7:30 p.m.
Viera at Tampa Plant
Miami BTW at Cocoa
Chaminade-Madonna at Melbourne Central Catholic