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Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Prep football: Tonight’s playoff matchups

Published:   |   Updated: December 6, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Apopka (12-1) at Plant (11-1-1)

WHAT: Class 8A state semifinals

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m./Dad’s Stadium, 2415 S. Himes Ave., Tampa

OUTLOOK: Plant is coming off a 17-7 win against Fort Pierce Central, the No. 25 team in the nation according to USA Today. The Panthers will face their third ranked team of the season in Apopka, ranked No. 28 in the country by USA Today, and the defending 8A state champion. Apopka defeated Jacksonville First Coast, 42-20, in the region championship to advance and is averaging 52 points per game, while Plant is averaging 33.8 points per game. Apopka senior running back Robert Thomas has eclipsed 2,000 yards this season led by a strong offensive line, led by four-star junior recruit Martez Ivey. Apopka has been without senior quarterback Zack Darlington, who is committed to Nebraska, this season with a concussion. Defensively, Apopka fields a strong defensive line led by Eric Jackson. Plant senior quarterback Colby Brown is averaging 195 passing yards per game and Patrick Brooks is averaging 106 rushing yards per game, aided by an offensive line that features four-star junior recruit Jake Fruhmorgen and Tennessee commitment Ray Raulerson. Defensively, Texas commitment and senior linebacker Andrew Beck is averaging a team-high 8.3 tackles per game. Plant is 5-0 in the state semifinals.

AT STAKE: Winner plays Palm Beach Gardens or Homestead South Dade in state championship

Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer (13-0) at East Lake (13-0)

WHAT: Class 7A state semifinals

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m./Eagles Nest, 1300 Silver Eagle Dr., Tarpon Springs

OUTLOOK: The Eagles are in the state semifinals for the first time in school history and will match up against another undefeated team in Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer, which defeated Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 35-28 last week and is ranked as high as No. 20 in the nation. Dwyer junior quarterback Daniel Parr had a huge game vs. the Raiders, throwing for 344 yards and scoring the winning touchdown with 40 seconds remaining. East Lake is coming off another blowout victory in the postseason, a 49-15 romp against Port Charlotte. Eagles junior quarterback Jake Hudson has played extremely well throughout the 2013 season, completing 77 of 131 passes for 1,332 yards and 14 TDs. Assisting Hudson in the running game is Weston Forham (1,196 yards, 19 TDs) and all-everything athlete Artavis Scott (1,617 all-purpose yards, 22 TDs). East Lake will need to keep Parr and Dwyer running back Alonzo Smith in check.

AT STAKE: Winner plays Kissimmee Osceola or Niceville in state championship.

St. Johns Bartram Trail (8-5) at Armwood (13-0)

WHAT: Class 6A state semifinals

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m./Lyle Flagg Field, 12000 U.S. 92, Seffner

OUTLOOK: These teams met in the 6A state semifinals in 2011, winning 46-38. The Hawks last reached the state championship in 2011 when they won the 6A state title, but the program had to forfeit the season due to use of an ineligible player. Bartram Trail, which started the season 0-5, is averaging 250 rushing yards per game, paved by an offensive line led by Jesse Burkett, who is committed to Vanderbilt. Sophomore David Coleman is the Bears’ leading rusher with 1,342 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior quarterback P.J. Blazejowski has thrown for 2,277 yards this season with 16 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Noah Johnson is averaging 60 rushing yards and 159 passing yards per game while junior linebacker Jordan Griffin is averaging a team-best 10 tacklers per game. Armwood is 8-3 all-time on the field in the state semifinals.

AT STAKE: Winner plays Mainland or Miami Central in state championship

Lakewood (10-3) at Green Cove Springs Clay (9-4)

WHAT: Class 5A state semifinals

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m./Clay High School, 2025 Highway 16 W, Green Cove Springs

OUTLOOK: Of the five teams to score 70 points or better in a playoff game this postseason in the state, two of them are in this game, with Apopka, Cocoa and Jacksonville Bishop Kenny being the other three. Green Cove Springs Clay came out of the regular season 6-4 and has reeled off three impressive wins in a row vs. Jacksonville Ribault (29-12), Bishop Kenny (74-73) and Pensacola Catholic (9-7). The Blue Devils are primarily a running team and are averaging 315 yards per game on the ground and have rushed for 4,096 yards through 13 games. Leading the way for Clay is quarterback Wes Weeks, who has thrown for 781 yards and rushed for another 957 and 13 TDs. Clay has five backs who have rushed for 400 yards or more, including Weeks, Shannon Asbell (1,154 yards, 20 TDs), Bilal Ally (837 yards, seven TDs), JT Tuner (539 yards, four TDs) and freshman Colin Wilson (407 yards, seven TDs). Lakewood counters Clay’s run-heavy attack with a spread offense consisting of Toledo commit Andrew Davis, Darquez Watson, Joc Ellison, Donterrio Fowler and quarterback Ryan Davis, who threw for 270 yards and two TDs in last week’s 27-21 victory against South Sumter.

AT STAKE: Winner plays Plantation American Heritage or Lake Wales in state championship.