FLEMING ISLAND - With mid-season about to hit area gridirons, a big step to securing a playoff spot will make this Friday’s game a bit more intense.
Middleburg, with a week off, returns to the turf intent on using the playoff points off a loss to St. Augustine work in their favor by running the table on the remainder of the schedule.
Note: The football playoff system is based off percentages of teams played; the winning percentage of the initial team, the winning percentage of the scheduled teams and the winning percentages of the scheduled teams’ opponents. In essence, St. Augustine, though a loss, can be considered a high-value team for Bronco playoff hopes, thus the remainder of the season can be determined by wins and losses from here to finish for most teams.
Different from 2020, a district champion will emerge from each district to determine four immediate region playoff qualifiers while the rest of the region field is based off the RPI (Playoff points rankings). There will be 32 teams in each class; eight qualifiers from each region-four district champions and four at-large teams based on RPI.
As of September 27, Keystone Heights has the highest RPI from local teams at 122nd statewide followed by Oakleaf at 204, Clay 239, Middleburg 253, Orange Park 285, Fleming Island 387 and Ridgeview 392 out of 482 ranked teams statewide. Locally, Creekside (5-0) is one of the top ranked teams in area at 45th and would be considered high value for game for Oakleaf for their October 29 game.
Robert E. Lee is 31st; important to Orange Park football while Nease and Columbia are in the top 100.
Fri., Oct. 1
Palatka at Clay
Matanzas at Middleburg
St. Augustine at Ridgeview
Fleming Island at Ponte Vedra
Sandalwood at Oakleaf
West Nassau at Orange Park
Fort White at Keystone Heights
SJCDS vs. Old Plank
Fleming Island at Ponte Vedra: District 3-7A clash
Fleming Island (2-3) at Ponte Vedra is new district opponent for Golden Eagles and maybe a faster paced offense to see. Secondary will need to be sharp against Sharks. Ponte Vedra, 3-2, lost two bigs; Baker County 26-7, First Coast 27-7, but stumped Menendez 17-0 last week. Sharks rush four guys in backfield with senior Mikey Stephens tops with 312 yards in five games with two scores (No. 34). Sharks also have duo quarterbacks; one with four interceptions (No. 4 Benjamin Burk, a sophomore, the other (No. 3) Nathan Bunkoski averaging just 40 yards passing per game. Burk has 93.3 yards per game in three games. Junior Wyatt Rogers is top pass catcher; 10 passes with 21.9 yards per catch average, but just one touchdown. Fleming Island beat up on county rival Ridgeview which was welcome return to W column after injuries shortened important parts of starting lineup. Freshman QB Cibastian Broughton is becoming legit player with best game against Panthers. Singleton still needs a breakout game.
Sandalwood at Oakleaf:
District 1-8A clash
Sandalwood (2-3) nand Oakleaf (3-2) is a trench warfare contest; both big and strong up front. Saints have two 100-plus per game rushers; junior Jordan Bean (21) and senior Chris Calhoun (15) with 12 touchdowns. Bean smashed Ribault in win with 271 yards on 17 carries with a 60 yard punt return touchdown after hittinb tough Creekside defense for 161 yards on 15 carries. Sophomore wide out Kyle Boylston is 15 pass target. Battle of wills. Sandalwood 9-3 last year. Oakleaf can’t look ahead with Mandarin and Bartram Trail to follow. Knights rebounded from bruising in Georgia to gut-test win over Clay in Green Cove Springs last week. RB Michael Brannon returned from injury to post 161 tough yards with 30 yard TD versus Clay. Knights’ defense had two pass interceptions; one a pick six TD, other to end the game. Athletes back there.
Matanzas at Middleburg: District 4-6A game
Matanzas (1-4) and Middleburg (3-1) will be post-St. Augustine recovery for Broncos after a BYE week. A good St. Augustine game and Wolfe and Padgett keep rolling. Caleb Freytag should be a well-known name by now.
Palatka (1-2) at Clay (2-2): District 4-5A game
Clay snoozes past Palatka, but keep an eye for Panthers if Oakleaf game was ugly. Oakleaf game was not nice to Blue Devils, expect angry birds at Palatka. Will Q return?
West Nassau (0-3) at Orange Park (2-3): Non-district
Raiders looked more like Raiders in 44-14 win over Matanzas. Now, add on to flow of energy of RB JoJo Restall and QB Tavien Wilkerson.
St. Augustine (2-2) at Ridgeview (1-3): District 4-6A match.
First year coach Bryan Arnette gets his first playoff look vs. St. Augustine after bruised up by Fleming Island. Yellow Jackets seething after loss to county rival Bartram Trail.
Keystone Heights (5-0) and Fort White (3-1) good game for Indians home crowd. Guess what? Run game is strong. Fort White beat good Branford (3-1) team last week. Fort White has their own three man backfield; 207, 166, 89 yard totals for four games for junior Kam Griffin (No. 32), Najeeb Smith (No. 12) and Clayton Philpot (No. 6). Keystone Heights’ “Four Horsemen” are at 730 with 14TDs, 509 with 7TDs, 276 with 2TDs and 160 with 3TDs. Numbers put Indians on top.
St. Johns back home against Old Plank after back-to-back big games.