Newsome (8-4) has come a long way from its 0-3 start and a lot of that has to do with the play of senior quarterback and linebacker Will Worth. The Wolves' signal caller has consistently churned out yardage in the option, run-heavy offense, including adding his sixth game of more than 100 yards on the ground in Newsome's 21-14 region semifinal win against Durant on Friday.
Worth, who had 18 carries for 103 yards, added 111 passing yards and a touchdown connection to Matt Hines in the second quarter.
Behind Worth, the well-rounded Wolves' offense churned out yardage and ate up time in eliminating the previously unbeaten Cougars.
The running game got huge lifts from junior John Hendricks, who added 112 yards and scored the game's first touchdown, and senior Clint Carnell, who scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard run and rushed for 104 yards.
"All of these guys did a great job for us," Wolves coach Ken Hiscock said. "No matter who we gave the ball to, they lived up to the challenge we gave them."
Newsome travels to Kissimmee Osceola on Friday for the Class 7A-Region 2 final to face its second straight undefeated team in the 12-0 Kowboys, who defeated Davenport Ridge High 29-28 on Friday. The Wolves are already in uncharted territory, reaching the region final for the first time. They advanced to the region semifinals one other time, falling to Plant in 2010.
Odd territory for Bailey, familiar success for Hawks
For a guy who produced more than 2,000 yards of total offense last season, Armwood senior athlete Alvin Bailey admits the 2012 campaign feels a bit odd. So far this fall, he's come up with a little more than 1,000 yards of receiving, rushing and passing. Last year, he played quarterback when normal starter Darryl Richardson struggled with injuries. This year, he's moved back under center because Richardson has struggled with consistency.
In Friday's Class 6A region semifinal against Hillsborough, Bailey was the starter again at quarterback, and once again, his final offensive production was nothing like 2011.
He came up with 63 yards rushing on 15 carries and hit two of 13 pass attempts for one touchdown and one interception. Nothing spectacular for the University of Florida-bound standout, but with another great performance by the Hawks defense, it was another win. This time, Armwood prevailed 9-7 to advance to the regional final against Gainesville.
"It does feel a little strange because last year, a lot of games came down to me and the offense coming up with points late in the game," Bailey said. "We still had a great defense last season but we didn't have to rely on them so much like we are this season."
But Bailey says he's fine with this year's formula for success. It has gotten the Hawks to the regional final for the 10th consecutive year with a shot at making the state semifinals.
"Defense wins championships, offense just sells tickets," Bailey said. "Our defense is the best defense in the state of Florida. I'm going to say that. That's how I feel. I'm confident in our defense."
The quest for a few more Thursdays
Robinson coach Mike DePue said as he was walking around campus before Thursday's practice he thought to himself, "Man, this could be my last Thursday as a head football coach."
It was a somber thought for the longtime Robinson coach who retires at the end of this season, but a thought his Knights made sure was delayed as they defeated Lakewood 22-19 on Friday.
DePue said the Knights (11-1) got all they could handle from Lakewood (10-2) as the Spartans jumped to a 13-0 first-quarter lead. The Knights were able to scratch out the lead in the final second as Martin Ruiz hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Zain Gilmore with 14 seconds left.
"They came out like gangbusters," DePue said. "We were lucky to come alive in the fourth quarter."
DePue said limiting mistakes especially on offense, where the Knights had three holding calls on wide receivers against Lakewood, will be crucial when Robinson hosts undefeated Pasco on Friday.
"We've got to avoid mental mistakes and have a much better mental discipline from here on out," DePue said. "It's just a matter of coming out and doing our jobs."
And for at least one more week, DePue's job is coaching football.