Broncos, Eagles, Blue Devils in state flag tourney

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 5/4/22

MIDDLEBURG - With impressive victories in their district championship weeks, the Middleburg High Lady Broncos and the Fleming Island Lady Golden Eagles flag football teams won district championships …

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Broncos, Eagles, Blue Devils in state flag tourney

Posted

MIDDLEBURG - With impressive victories in their district championship weeks, the Middleburg High Lady Broncos and the Fleming Island Lady Golden Eagles flag football teams won district championships while Clay High qualified as the region eighth seed to play with their strength of schedule.

Region playoff games start on Tues., May 3, with the state championships set for Mandarin High School at May 13-14.

Middleburg, unbeaten in 14 contests, made short work of district runnerup ED White with a 32-0 bashing behind the elusive quarterbacking of senior Brooke Swenson and the Broncos two outside threats; Laura Palagyi and Jaden Lopresti. Swenson’s outside receiving corps is led by Cheyenne Jenkins.

On defense, the Broncos have inside rusher Desiree Hall alongside of Palagyi.

Middleburg, with two 20-0 wins over Clay earlier in the season; one the district semifinal, will host the Blue Devils for a third time on Tues., May 3 in their region opener.

Clay, at 7-4 with the two aforementioned losses to Middleburg and losses to Florida Deaf and Fleming Island, gets into the regions behind quarterbacking from Dakota Hills and passcatching from Addison Holestein. Clay coach Jared Moses also got an interception from linebacker Shelby McClain on defense. McClain has become a key target of Hills with Annalee Harbison out injured with a knee.

One of Moses’ threats is speedy tailback Juliana Garcia, just a freshman, who has speed to get downfield if she gets an opening.

The winner of the Middleburg/Clay game will play the winner of the Suwannee (11-6) vs. Florida A & M (9-2) contest. Suwannee won their district title with a 25-13 win over FSU High while Florida A & M, the Class 1A runnerup to six-time Class 1A champion Tampa Robinson, and a region final winner over Middleburg, lost a 26-25 game to Choctawhatchee in that district final after beating Gulf Breeze 26-0 in the semifinal.

Clay has history in the region playoffs with the Blue Devils losing in the region finals to Choctawhatchee in 2017, losing to Tampa Robinson in the state semifinals in 2018 and 2019.

In Class 2A, Fleming Island, now twice district 2-2A champion, has been hot behind quarterback Mykayla Maddox and ball specialists Rose Martin and Gabi Musa en route to a 13-1 record and a double shutout of Deland (7-0), Mandarin (20-0) and Spruce Creek (25-0) in their district tournament. Center Mackenzie Kirk, also a soccer standout, is a strong presence on both sides of the ball. The Golden Eagles lost last year to Navarre in the region semifinals last year with Navarre eventually losing to 2A champion Newsome in the state semifinals. Navarre beat Spruce Creek in the region final last year.

The Golden Eagles host Crestview out of the Florida Panhandle (9-7) on Tues., May 3.

Fleming Island’s only loss was a 21-13 contest to Middleburg on April 4. The Golden Eagles offense has five 40-plus point wins in their season.

Fleming Island lost in 2019 in the region finals to Martin County and to Dr. Phillips in the region finals in 2017.

In the district tournaments around the area, Ridgeview (9-4) lost a 12-2 semifinal to ED White after beating Orange Park 18-0 in their playoff opener.

Against ED White (12-5), Ridgeview scored off a safety by rusher Paetyn Miller, but could not put any more points on the board despite being in the red zone numerous times. Quarterback Nia Blocton, running back Lexi Haile and wideouts Mia-Bella Gutierrez and Ziyah Campbell led the Panther offense. Miller led the defensive rush with Emma Rayes on the corner and Ania Haber inside.

For Orange Park, Caroline Hudgins was the top offensive weapon at either quarterback or catching passes with Jada Blanton taking snaps at quarterback to free Hudgins. Amani Brown, Alanna Kennedy and Katherine Davila were top tacklers for defense.

Keystone Heights ended with a flury with four wins in their final six games to close at 5-10. The Lady Indians got a playoff win, 12-6, over Wakulla to advance to the district semifinal where the season ended 27-0 to FSU High.

Oakleaf, 1-6, won their first game, a 19-8 win over St. Augustine, but lost six in a row including a 31-6 district playoff loss to Fletcher. The Knights lost a host of talented players to basketball commits and had to restructure their lineup midseason.

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