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The Prep Zone Insider

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Mike RidaughtBy Mike Ridaught

In sports, you don’t always get the right bounce or get the right call in a game.

Sometimes, the same can be said about football programs that are on their way up.  They don’t get the benefit of the doubt.  They don’t get respect right away.  They have to earn it – especially when being considered among some of the best programs in the area or the state.

On the other hand, there are programs like St. Augustine, Trinity Catholic, Bolles, Gainesville, etc. – that have earned respect and typically get the nod when it comes to poll consideration – even in ‘down years.’

For example, a 1-3 Madison County team is hanging on in the Prep Zone Power Poll and still receiving votes despite three losses in a row.  Any other 1-3 team may not receive as much consideration.

Obviously there are other factors why the Cowboys are getting recognized, but it’s possible that Madison County could still be receiving votes based on who they’ve been and not so much as who they are.  I’m not predicting as much, but Madison County has earned that kind of respect.

That could be one reason why the surging Chiefland Indians are currently getting no love in the polls despite a 4-0 start following a 34-0 win over 2012 state semifinalist Newberry.  Chiefland entered last season with a 23-game losing streak and took a huge step forward by finishing the year with a 5-5 mark.

Chiefland is receiving votes in the latest Associated Press 1A state rankings, falling just outside the top five, but the Indians received zero votes in the Prep Zone Power Poll.

Alphonso Timmons and Deshawn Roland are both on their way to 1,000 yard seasons rushing and the defense has been lights out, allowing only 3.5 points per game.

However, Class 1A-District 7 is loaded and the road will be tough.   The Indians will get top-ranked Union County (Lake Butler) at home on Oct. 25, but games at Williston (Oct. 18) and at Dixie County (Cross City) on Nov. 1 could determine whether Chiefland makes it back to the postseason.

Chiefland was the last team from the Gainesville area to win a state football title (1997).

In Class 5A-District 5, the Eastside (Gainesville) Rams won their first game of the season after an 0-3 start.  The defending district champions won at Belleview, 34-31, on a 20-yard TD run by Dantez Willis with 3:03 to play in the game.

On Friday, the Rams (1-3, 1-0) host North Marion (Sparr), which won its first game under new head coach Matt Johnson.  Last year, the Rams stunned the Colts (3-1, 1-0) on the road, 42-41, to win the district title.  It was the first district loss since 2006 for North Marion – snapping a string of 24-consecutive league victories.  It also snapped a five-game winning streak in the series.

The rematch is on Friday night at Citizen’s Field in Gainesville and we’ll have all the action on local radio (AM-1230 in Gainesville, AM-900 Ocala & FM-100.1 Ocala), as well as ‘live’ video online at www.theprepzone.com  Our coverage begins at 7 p.m.

As we roll into October, the one team that is definitely on a roll is Columbia (Lake City), the top-ranked team in the Prep Zone Power Poll and the #2 team in Class 6A.

They opened the season by routing Gainesville, followed by a win at defending 7A state runners-up Lincoln (Tallahassee).  They are outscoring their opponents by an average scoring margin of 32.5 points per game.

Junior Running back Lonnie Underwood is emerging as a Player-of-the-Year candidate with  776 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns for the Tigers (4-0), who could run the table if they get past district foe Ed White (Jacksonville) on the road on Oct. 11.

Other district races are a little tighter.

Gainesville, Citrus (Inverness) and Vanguard (Ocala) will battle for two playoff spots in 6A-District 5 and 5A-District 5 is still wide open with Dunnellon, North Marion, Eastside and sleeper Belleview competing for two postseason berths.

It seems like the school year just began, yet next month marks the end of one prep sport season (golf), with postseason tournaments in volleyball, cross country and swimming & diving taking place in the month of October too.

Fortunately, the football playoffs don’t begin until November.

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