You’ve probably heard the saying, “one game does not a season make.”
But what about two? Or three?
Even with the new FHSAA playoff system, you don’t want to start out the high school football season 0-3. Here are four area playoff teams from last year who are 0-2 heading into Thursday night’s games.
North Marion (Citra) – The Colts have been to the playoffs every year since 1999. However, they’ve lost back-to-back games to begin the season to Rickards (Tallahassee) and Forest (Ocala) and they lost by double-digits in both games. Former NFL player and head coach Willie Offord noted at the beginning of the season that he had a young football team. His Colts will have to grow up in a hurry. Following an 0-2 start, the Class 5A Colts now get an undefeated and state-ranked rival on the road this week. Class 6A No. 5 Vanguard (Ocala) is 2-0 following a win at 7A Buchholz (Gainesville) last week. The tough schedule, which will also include Gainesville, and unbeatens Belleview and Dunnellon, will benefit North Marion. But at some point you have to win.
South Sumter (Bushnell) – The Raiders are off to a surprising 0-2 start following a run all the way to the Class 4A state semifinals last year. They lost at home to 6A Leesburg, 35-20, to begin the season. Last week South Sumter was run all over at Nature Coast (Brooksville), 33-7. This week they get 4A Trenton (1-1). Then they’ve got North Marion which could be 0-3.
Sandalwood (Jacksonville) – The Class 8A Saints lost a heart-breaker to 5A Ribault (Jacksonville), 14-13, in Week #1. Last week they lost at 7A Fleming Island (Orange Park), 17-6. They get another 7A team this week at home in Leon (Tallahassee), and the Lions are also coming in 0-2. That makes it a must-win game for the Saints, whose next two games are against undefeated teams Spruce Creek (Port Orange) and Flagler Palm Coast in 8A-District 1. Then they go to Raines (Jacksonville).
Santa Fe (Alachua) – Cliff Harrell’s team was able to sneak into the playoffs last year with a .500 record. But in 2017, the young Raiders are looking at the possibility of an 0-3 start with Thursday night’s game at Fort White, which is receiving votes in the AP Class 3A state rankings. With games still to play against 6A Forest (Ocala) and 7A Buchholz (Gainesville), plus a trip to Trinity Catholic (Ocala), the margin for error is getting slimmer.
Of the four, only Sandalwood is favored to win according to pigskin forecaster Joe Pinkos.