Who: Viera at No. 3 Columbia (Lake City)
What: Class 7A state semifinals
When: Friday, December 4, at 7:30 p.m.
Video online: Click here for the link to watch
Winner will play either No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) or #2 Braden River (Bradenton) for the state title
By Mike Ridaught
Tonight’s opponents in the Class 7A state semifinals in Lake City are a “mirror image” of each other.
Viera is led by quarterback Hayden Kingston, who established school records with 3,420 yards passing and 35 TDs. They have two receivers with over 1,000 yards apiece.
The Hawks (9-4) are also coming off their biggest win in school history, a 24-14 win at No. 8 Lakeland.
“I have a ton of respect for what they’ve been able to accomplish,” said Columbia coach Brian Allen, who noted he had been following their stats all season. “Now that you look at them on tape, man it looks like Columbia vs. Columbia.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers (12-1) have a record setter of their own at quarterback. They have a 1,000 yard rusher and four receivers with 35 or more receptions who all average over 15 yards per catch.
“Their quarterback (junior Davin Schuck) has thrown for 3,500 yards, and they have three or four play-makers,” Viera coach Kevin Mays told Florida Today. “There will be a bunch of guys on the field on both teams that could score at any point. Defensively, they’ve given up points, and we’ve given up points.”
Points is something you can most likely count on, particularly from Columbia, which is playing in its first state semifinal since 2003. The Tigers, ranked third in the state in 7A, have put up over 1,000 yards in the playoffs and are averaging 50 points per game in three games.
They scored 35 points in the fourth quarter to beat Chiles (Tallahassee) in the opening round, put up over 600 yards the following week against Lincoln (Tallahassee) and exploded for 42 first-half points in the win against Bartram Trail (St. Johns) in the regional finals.
Schuck is on a record-setting pace in the postseason.
Last week, the senior completed 17-of-25 passes for 305 yards and four TDs. He also rushed for a score.
Schuck’s 13 TD passes in the postseason is just four away from tying the record set by Jacory Harris of Miami Northwestern in 2006 (17) and he’s also just under 250 yards from passing Tim Tebow (2005), Harris & Adrian McPherson (2000) for the most passing yards in the playoffs.
Defensively, Allen noted that his team has gotten better because of who they have to play against in practice every day.
“We feel good about the fact that since we’ve transitioned into this spread attack offensively, it’s made our defense that much better,” he said. “That’s one thing we struggled with through the years.”