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ThePrepZone.com’s top games – Week #8


PZ - square(white)By Donald Taylor

Well folks, I’m back after a two week hiatus. After two weeks of site issues and a back injury, I’m ready to jump back in. This week is the start of the playoff push in just about every district.  We now have a good idea of which teams are the “cream of the crop” in most of the district races across North Central Florida.

The spotlight this week is shining brightly on the city of Trenton. The Tigers have steamrolled their way to a 6-0 record with blowout wins over highly regarded teams in Port St. Joe and Dixie County. This week the Tigers host, what might be, the most talent-laden opponent on their regular season schedule, the Newberry Panthers. Not only is this a pivotal District 7-1A game, but an intense rivalry game between two towns separated by roughly 12 miles of State Road 26. It’s sure to be a sellout, so I advise you to get there early. Of course, this isn’t the only big game in the area this week. So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at our Games Of The Week.

Week #8:

Vanguard (Ocala) Knights (6A) @ Gainesville Purple Hurricanes (6A)

Events that unfolded immediately after GHS’ game on Friday night have led to the suspension of 3 key players for the Hurricanes. Caelan Christian (Sr. QB), Kyle McGriff (Sr. WR) and Chris King (Sr. RB) have each been issued a 6 game suspension for actions taken towards gameOfficials after the ‘Canes loss to Buchholz on Friday night. If these suspensions are upheld, it would not only be a crippling blow to the ‘Canes postseason aspirations, but it will end the high school careers of the 3 seniors. The Vanguard Knights roll into town fresh off a big win over a very talented Leesburg team. The Knights two losses were by 10 to a highly ranked North Marion team (42-32) and by a single point (33-32) to the Buchholz Bobcats (7A). In other words folks, the Knights are a very good football team.

Final Analysis: If the suspensions hold true for the ‘Canes, they’ll enter this game missing a huge chunk of their offensive production. That’s a recipe for disaster in a game that should be a high scoring affair. This game has gone from a pick’em type game to a potential double-digit
win for the Knights.

Vanguard – 31 GHS – 14

#7 (1A) Newberry Panthers @ #2 (1A) Trenton Tigers

Look, I could write a book about this game. I’m gonna keep this short and to the point. Trenton appears to have a Championship caliber team. They pretty much do what they want, when they want on the football field. The Tigers are led by senior QB Michael Smith and senior RB Hamp Cheevers. They are well coached and operate with military precision.

The Panthers enter this game but with one blemish on their record, a blowout loss to Union County. UC’s Ty Cook absolutely lit up the Newberry Defense, passing for more than 400 yards against them. Beyond that loss, the Panthers have had games where they were dominant and games where the played down to lesser opponents level. Newberry is every bit as talented as Trenton on an individual basis. Where my concerns fall in this game, for the Panthers, is whether or not they can play as a team and not individuals.

Final Analysis: Trenton has every tool they need to make a deep playoff run and hoist the Trophy in Orlando. They win games by being physically dominant in the trenches. Newberry has the players to matchup with the Tigers, more so than any other team in 7-1A. But, Ja’len Parks, Corey Durden, Brion Bridwell and Malik Neal don’t always play in sync, nor do they give 100% on every play. That’s a bad formula against Trenton, who looks to break the spirit of every team they line up against.

I have a feeling, however, that the Panthers are gonna show up and play their best game of the season. Coach Sarduy has indicated that they have been highly focused in preparations for this game. The question is, is Newberry’s A-game enough to get the job done against the best football team Trenton’s had in several years? Call me crazy…but I’ve got a feeling that Newberry is going to shock the world on Friday night.

Newberry -27 Trenton -25


(7A) Bartram Trail (St. Johns) @ (7A) Buchholz (Gainesville)
This is the first game ever played on campus at Buchholz. The Bobcats are the better team, but I smell a close ballgame in this one. It’s Homecoming for Buchholz, so I think they’ll pull this one out.
Buchholz – 29 Bartram Trail – 24

(1A) Hawthorne @ (1A) Chiefland
Two teams headed in different directions this season. The Hornets will get the job done on the road.
Hawthorne – 20 Chiefland – 12

(IND. NFC) St. Francis Catholic (Gainesville) @ (IND. NFC) Florida School for the Deaf (St. Augustine)
St. Francis has been plagued by turnovers this season. That’s not a good thing against the Dragons. FSDB will send the Wolves home with their tails between their legs.
FSDB – 34 St. Francis 12

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