American Heritage is going back to the regional finals, as if there were ever a doubt. With three more victories, the Patriots would not only clinch a Florida High School Athletic Association Class 5A state title, but also enter into at least a broader discussion about the Super 25 national title.
On Friday the Patriots rolled past Bishop Moore, 56-27, using a dominant first and third quarter to create space. Pat Surtain’s team jumped out to a 28-0 lead before watching Bishop Moore claw back to within 14 at 28-14 and, at halftime, 35-21.
The third quarter could have taken the game in two different directions. It worked in American Heritage’s favor, with the Patriots building back up to a 28-point lead on a pair of touchdowns on the ground. American Heritage would give up another touchdown to Bishop Moore, but would counter with a final touchdown of its own to seal the final margin of victory.
The win pushes American Heritage on to the Class 5A Region 4 final, where Cardinal Gibbons awaits. The game is a rematch of the tightest contest the Patriots have faced all year, a 23-19 victory on the road in October.
A win there would earn a berth in the state semifinals on December 1, with a state title game at the end of the rainbow on Dec. 8. Will the Patriots be there? They and their fans will certainly expect to be, and they have plenty of reason to given recent results.