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Eastside travels to Nature Coast (Brooksville) for the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs



Friday, 7:15 p.m. (PREGAME) – High School Football, 7:30 p.m. (KICKOFF)
Eastside (Gainesville) at Nature Coast (Brooksville) – FHSAA Class 5A state playoffs

By Danny Villanueva
Contributing Writer
Twitter – @Danny_361

VIDEO: Facebook Live via the Eastside Athletics Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ehsramathletics

Eastside (Gainesville) Rams
Head Coach: Ceddrick Daniels
Record: 7-3
Key Players: Anthony Richardson (QB, WR) Deion Jenkins (RB) Jabari Robinson (WR) Jahren Phillips (MLB) Vermonte Williams (DE) Tyreese Sanford (MLB)
Outlook: The Rams aren’t exactly entering the playoffs having set the world on fire. Eastside got blown out by rival Gainesville High School last week, 42-13. After succeeding for most of the season, University of Florida commit Anthony Richardson had a tough night. The dual-threat quarterback threw two interceptions and only ran for 54 yards on 12 carries. Richardson’s tough night added with the defense struggling spelled a disaster for Eastside. Gainesville quarterback Luke Matthews could not be stopped. The senior threw for four touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of 126.3. If the Rams want to make a deep playoff run they will certainly have to play better defense than they did last Friday night. There is no middle ground for Eastside. When they win they do so by a wide margin but when they lose it also isn’t really close. However, credit Coach Daniels for getting this team into the postseason after losing the district championship game to North Marion (Citra). It’s the Rams first playoff appearance since 2015.

Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) SharksNature Coast_Sharks
Head Coach Cory Johns
Record: 9-1
Key Players: Mike Weston (RB) Fabian Burnett (QB) Kinyatah Morgan (SS, OLB, RB) Anthony Houston (ILB, FB) Andres Pantouvakis (DE, DT) Shemar Lawson (CB, RB)
Outlook: Unlike the Rams, the Nature Coast Tech Sharks are heading into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the state. Nature Coast Tech hasn’t lost a game since losing their season opener at Ridgeview (Orange Park) by three points. Eastside’s run defense better show up ready to play or it will be a long night for the Rams. The Sharks’ rushing attack is one of the best in the state and it is led by running back Mike Weston. The senior is averaging 223 yards per game and has scored 25 rushing touchdowns in the regular season. With 2,007 rushing yards under his belt and gaining eight yards per carry, Nature Coast Tech will be relying on him like they did all season long. Defensively, the Rams will have to worry about Anthony Houston. Houston flies around the field, always finding himself near the ball to make a play. The inside linebacker leads the team in total tackles and tackles for loss. The Sharks haven’t been tested since late September when they had to go into overtime to defeat Crystal River. It will be interesting to see if their regular season momentum carries over to the first round of the playoffs.

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