By JOSH FRYE
The football season will continue this week for Escambia Academy, Northview High and J.U. Blacksher, as each earned a spot in its various classification’s postseason.
A look at each team’s first-round contests, which will be played this Friday, November 8:
During the team’s AISA playoff run last year, EA defeated Coosa Valley in the first round, Edgewood Academy in the second round, and lost to Autauga Academy in the AISA championship game.
This year, EA’s first-round opponent, Lakeside School (2-7), will most certainly be the underdog. Lakeside has scored just over 157 total points this season and has allowed more than 340. The 7-3 Cougars are the number-one seed from Class AA, Region 2.
“Being number-one in region play is huge,” head coach Hugh Fountain said. “With a number-one seeding, you get the opportunity to play the last place team and then work your way up. However, standings mean nothing once you enter playoffs.”
Fountain stressed that once the playoffs begin, one loss will cost a season.
“That is why you cannot count out anyone,” he said. “Lakeside can come out and become a completely different team than the one that everyone has known all season. Injured key players can return at any time, and it could cost you your season if you come in cocky. As a team, you have to take care of business or your season is over.”
Quarterback Landon Sims has helped lead a strong EA offense. Shannon Wheat, Chase Bell, Tiquale Taylor, Christian Crook, Bryant Quimby, Ty Williams, Cameron Cloud, Jacob Lee, Daughtry McGhee, Tyrese Smith and Jabo Davis have all added strong offensive and defensive contributions during the season, and kicker Orlando Medina will continue to serve as EA’s secret weapon.
The Bulldogs are playoff-bound for the first time since 2017. In their last appearance, they fell to Luverne in the first round of the Class 1A, Region 1 playoffs.
JUB (8-2), which has made 17 previous playoff appearances but never advanced past the third round, enters this year’s postseason as the third seed from Class 2A, Region 1 and will travel to play Abbeville (also 8-2) in first-round action.
According to 10th-year head coach Wes Sims, hopes are high for a championship season.
“Key for our team going into the first round is to be as routine as normal,” Sims said. “Abbeville is a tough opponent. They have some skilled guys but do not throw well. They have a skilled running game that we will definitely have to defend against. Bottom line is that we will have to ‘man up’ and be aggressive defensively.”
The Bulldogs have scored 363 points and have allowed 174; Abbeville has scored 328 points and has allowed 128.
Quarterback K.D. Rabb, who is a run-pass threat, and wide receiver J.T. Tucker, are expected to lead the offense, while Tucker Spence and JaDaniel Nettles have helped produce a strong offense and have shined on defense.
Brothers Kane (5-10, 275, senior) and Brock Singleton (6-1, 315, sophomore) are little-known names, but opposing teams are well aware of the offensive-defensive lineman duo’s presence.
Under Florida’s complicated playoff “performance index,” Northview (7-2) wound up the third seed from FHSAA Class 1AS, District 1.
As a result, the Chiefs will now face Jay for the second week in a row, this time at home. NHS defeated JHS 40-7 last Friday, but everything will be on the line this week.
“It is always tough facing a team two weeks in a row,” NHS head coach Derek Marshman said. “Jay has a good team, and you cannot count them out. They will not lay down and just let us take it. We have to come out with the same level of intensity and effort. The pressure is now on us to come out and repeat the performance that we had last week.”
Northview’s squad is stacked with powerful, talented players.
Trent Peebles, Ben Wilson, Jayden Jackson, Damerion Findley, Jaheem Durant and Trent Kite have elevated the Chiefs’ run-based offense over the course of the season and will be key players as NHS enters into the playoffs.
Wyatt Windham, Tyler Kite, Clay Kittrell, Logan Bryan, Noah Harigel, Wyatt Rhinhart and Jojo Parker have been key defensive leaders for NHS.