ThePrepZone.com Sports Report Presented by SunState Federal Credit Union (Dec. 1)

Mike RidaughtIn case you missed it on Friday, December 1, Mike Ridaught joined Jeff Cardozo & Pat Dooley on “The Tailgate” on WRUF-98.1 FM & 850 AM at 4 p.m to talk high school sports. Here are the things they discussed on ThePrepZone.com Sports Report Presented by SunState Federal Credit Union:

The high school football season is down to its final two weeks. The Class 1A-4A state championship games are set.  Madison County will play for a state title.

There are three teams from the North Central Florida area who will play for a state title next week in the smaller classifications next week – Madison County, University Christian & Raines. All eight classifications will play their state championship games over a 3-day period at Camping World Stadium in Orlando next Thursday, Friday & Saturday.

Madison County will play Blountstown for the Class 1A state title on Thursday afternoon at 1. Madison County has kind of been my pick all season long. They’re undefeated. They beat an undefeated Dixie County (Cross City) team by over 50 points in the playoffs and beat defending state champion Pahokee by three scores last week. It’s hard to believe it, when you think about Madison County’s rich history, but the Cowboys haven’t won a state title in 10 years. They lost a couple of title games in the last six years but they’ll be a favorite in Class 1A.

University Christian of Jacksonville, a place I actually went to school for nine years back in the days of Storm Davis and Glen “Milkman’ Davis, they will look to defend their Class 2A state against Champagnat Catholic of Hialeah. That will actually be just one of two No. 1 vs. No. 2 teams among all eight classes. The other 1-2 match-up is Oxbridge Academy (West Palm Beach) vs. top-ranked Chaminade-Madonna of Hollywood in Class 3A, but I think the game that could be the best bet for your time and investment is the 4A state championship game.

That will be Raines (Jacksonville) vs. defending state champion Cocoa. Last year, Cocoa ran for over 400 yards in the championship game against Bolles (Jacksonville) but this Raines defense is very athletic. They have 55 sacks in 13 games. Their quarterback, who is headed to play for Kerwin Bell at Valdosta State, is the all-time leading passer in school history and their running back, junior Brandon Marshall, is averaging 9.6 yards per carry and he has college scouts drooling with a 4.0 GPA. So that’s 1A-4A. They benefit because they get two weeks off while the larger classifications keep playing all the way through.Sunstate Logo

Tonight, Classes 5A-8A will have their state semifinal games. St. Augustine & Bartram Trail are among the teams in the North Central Florida area still playing

I think one of the more interesting match-ups for the area is that St. Augustine team at Armwood (Seffner). This is Armwood’s fourth undefeated season in the past five years. Armwood is riding a 42-game home winning streak and they haven’t lost at home in the playoffs since 2002. But St. Augustine has been unstoppable on offense. They’ve scored 31 or more points in each of their 12 victories. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 44.4 points per game, and they’ve put up 49, 52, and 49, respectively, in their first three playoff games. Armwood has allowed seven points or less 11 times this season, but their offense is no slouch. They’ve got one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the state and their running back, Brian Snead, is an Ohio State commit who has over 3,500 yards in his career. Armwood has a bunch of D-I guys (Armwood is a 3-point favorite according to Joe Pinkos).

Two other games involving area teams – Bartram Trail (St. Johns), which is in the same district as Buchholz (Gainesville), is hosting Plant (Tampa) tonight in the Class 7A state semifinals. Defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale), where the Gators’ Jake Allen went to school, is playing No. 2 Venice tonight in the other state semifinal. And Baker County, up in Glen St. Mary, is making the long trip to Pensacola to face West Florida. Last week, West Florida beat 4-time defending state champion Jacksonville Trinity Christian, plus it’s always tough when you have to make the long trip to the Panhandle.

The boys’ high school basketball season is underway. How are hoops looking in the area this season?

This past Monday was a great way to start the boys’ high school basketball season over at P.K. Yonge. Even though it ended up being a heart-breaking loss, the Blue Wave nearly knocked off the Villages, a team that was in the Class 5A Final Four last year and has one of the top sophomores in the state of Florida. In fact, it was a great battle between underclassmen.

Junior Trey Mann, who is a University of Florida recruit, scored 33 points, and P.K. Yonge sophomore Jalen Speer, who only averaged seven points per game last year as a freshman, scored a career-high 30 points in a 54-53 loss. This comes on the heels of P.K. Yonge losing its best player on the first day of practice when Byron Smith transferred to The Villages, ironically. Fortunately, it wasn’t Smith who hit the game-winning shot, but still a tough loss for coach Billy Blackmon, who was really pleased with how hard his team competed.

That carried over into their next game on Tuesday night against Gainesville. GHS really struggled shooting the ball in that game, and actually fell behind by 17 points. They were playing with Christian Miller-Cardwell, who was the Gainesville Sun’s large school player of the year last season. Speer was actually held to just seven points but Israel Wilcox, their little 5-foot-5 junior guard did a really good job of spreading the floor and getting into the lane and drawing fouls. He was 9-of-12 from the free throw line in the 2nd half, and Will Banks scored 14 of his 17 in the opening half for P.K. Yonge, which has another tough game tonight against Class 8A state runner-up Tallahassee Lincoln.

I still think Gainesville will be there in the end. They’ve got a few players back from that team that went 25-4 so I believe they will make it a 7th straight postseason appearance.

And I was at Eastside (Gainesville) last night. Buchholz started on fire in the opening quarter, making four shots beyond the arc, but Eastside outscored Buchholz 24-2 in the second quarter and Eastside cruised to a 61-44 win. Eastside, which did make the playoffs last year, is going to be better this season, in my opinion. Sophomore Anthony Richardson, who has a football offer from Louisville, is a pretty good basketball player too. He scored a game-high 19 points. Jimmy Johnson had 17 and Malik Roberson, both of those guys are seniors, scored 15.

I haven’t seen Hawthorne yet but I know they won big last night against Crescent City and with Devin Lawrence on the floor they are legitimate contender in Class 1A.

I’ll get a chance to see a lot of teams this month as we have over 40 basketball broadcasts planned for ThePrepZone.com, including the Kingdom of the Sun down at Vanguard (Ocala), kind of our version of March Madness, but I think those teams I mentioned initially are the ones we’ll be talking about come playoff time.

For the latest in high school sports in Gainesville, check out our daily reports on 106.9 FM every weekday around 7:50 a.m.  Here is a link to the archives.