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ThePrepZone.com’s top games

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Prep Zone - square(none)By Donald Taylor
@DJLTaylor94

We are just two days away from the opening game of the high school football season. That also means it’s time for the first installment of theprepzone.com’s top games in the area. There are many great games that could make the list each week. We’re going to highlight, what we think, are the top 5 each week.

Week #1 (Friday, August 28)

BIG SCHOOL GAME OF THE WEEK

Eastside (Gainesville) Rams @ Buchholz (Gainesville) Bobcats (at Citizens Field)
This is a “City Championship” matchup between the 5A Rams and 7A Bobcats. Last year, the Bobcats amassed 394 yards of offense en route to a 31-21 win. The Rams are hoping to avoid another slow start after opening the 2014 campaign with three straight losses and finishing 4-6. Junior KJ Minter will lead the Rams on offense, which looks to be much improved from a year ago. The Bobcats look to start fast and improve on their 4-6 record from 2014. Buchholz opened the season with a win at 3A power Trinity Catholic (Ocala) in their Kickoff Classic and hope to build on that success. This series has been tight since 2004 with the largest margin of victory of 11 points in 2009 (Eastside, 21-10). Buchholz, which has a slim 6-5 edge in the series during that time, has won two in a row following Eastside’s two-game winning streak in 2011-12.

Buchholz-Eastside since 2004
2014 – Buchholz, 31-21
2013 – Buchholz, 13-6
2012 – Eastside, 13-10
2011 – Eastside 24-19
2010 – Buchholz, 17-13
2009 – Eastside, 21-10
2008 – Eastside, 16-10
2007 – Eastside, 22-15
2006 – Buchholz, 7-0
2005 – Buchholz, 7-6
2004 – Buchholz, 7-6

SMALL SCHOOL GAME OF THE WEEK

Santa Fe (Alachua) Raiders @ Newberry Panthers
A year ago, a young Panther team wandered into an ambush in Alachua. The Raiders stymied the Panther offense until late in the game, on the way to a 26-9 win. The Panthers managed just 147 yards of offense and had a hard time slowing down the 4A Raiders. Santa Fe went on to post a 7-3 record, while the Panthers struggled to an 0-3 start before rallying to a 5-5 finish. Newberry enters the 2015 season with a talented group of weapons on offense including 1000+ yard rusher Jason Franklin and WR Malik Neal. The addition of St. Francis transfer Monroe Thornton will give senior QB Nick Oelrich another high-powered weapon to target. Santa Fe is equally as talented, with a senior-laden team led by RB Fred Brown and 2-way player BJ Williams. Newberry has dominated the series of late, winning seven of the last eight games. However, Santa Fe has a chance to win two straight in the series for the first time since 2004-05. This should be a brawl from start to finish.

Santa Fe-Newberry since 2004
2014 – Santa Fe, 26-9
2013 – Newberry, 29-14
2012 – Newberry, 39-7
2011 – Santa Fe, 17-16 (OT)
2010 – Newberry, 21-14
2009 – Newberry, 41-14
2008 – Newberry, 47-18
2007 – Newberry, 27-7
2006 – Newberry, 14-6
2005 – Santa Fe, 35-32
2004 – Santa Fe, 13-7

BEST OF THE REST

GHS Hurricanes @ Columbia (Lake City) Tigers
Playoff teams a year ago, both the ‘Canes and Tigers look to make another run at the playoffs in 2015. Last year’s game was an OT thriller with the Tigers winning 44-43. Both teams enter the game loaded with enough talent to match that game’s excitement. Gainesville is receiving votes in the Class 6A state poll, while Columbia received a vote in the 7A state poll. GHS coach Mark Latsko is looking for his first win against the Tigers, who have won two in a row in the series after the ‘Canes won the previous two.

PK Yonge (Gainesville) @ Williston
PK Yonge Head Coach Kent Johnson thinks his skill position players could be the most talented he’s coached in more than three decades. Williston would like to forget the 2014 season all together. There is optimism amongst the fans, players and coaches that they can do just that with the addition of former Trinity Catholic assistant and new football coach Justin Wentworth. The Red Devils have won the last two against the Blue Wave.

Florida School for the Deaf (St. Augustine) at Oak Hall (Gainesville) – Thursday, Aug. 27
The Eagles have a new coach in Matt DiBernardo and revived hope for the future. With key players returning, including bruising RB Jackson Carey and QB Chase Trunnell, Oak Hall hopes to compete for the North Florida Conference crown in 2015. Oak Hall, which won only one game last season, stopped a 2-point conversion with less than a minute remaining to defeat Ocala Christian Academy in the Kickoff Classic. However, the Dragons are no cupcake to start. Florida Deaf defeated Oak Hall, 33-0, in last year’s season opener in St. Augustine.

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