The Gainesville Christian six-man football team is one win away from a state title and they will see a familiar opponent in the championship game.
The Warriors (9-0), the top-ranked team in the Florida Christian Association of Private and Parochial School (FCAPPS), will play cross-town rival Countryside Christian in a rematch at 3 p.m., Saturday, at Bronson High School.
“This has been a crazy season for sure,” said Gainesville Christian coach James Schrader. “Lots of hard, big games in the beginning and again in the playoffs. It took longer than expected to come together as a team, but once we did, we were on point. Great group of athletes and young men.”
GCCS defeated No. 4 Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville), 53-52, in the semifinals. ICA rallied from a three-score deficit, but the Warriors sealed the game with a late interception.
“Last week was too close,” Schrader said. “We blew an early 21-point lead. The key was the offense driving the length of the field to score and go up by one and then the defense showing up when they were needed to at the end of the game with an interception.”
Third-ranked Countryside Christian advanced to the championship game after knocking off No. 2 First Coast Christian (Jacksonville) on the road, 39-32.
The Minutemen are led by seniors Logan Sauder (RB/QB), Tyler Keith (QB/LB) and Trey Tumbleson (WR/CB).
“We need to be on point,” Schrader said. “When the offense does what it is supposed to, we score.”
GCCS is led by seniors Jamarious Williams (QB), Ethan Conner (RB/DB) and Antonio Rivera (RB/CB). The Warriors also showcase the reigning FCAPPS Heisman Trophy recipient in junior running back Tyler Withey.
“I have a running back that scored 48 touchdowns last season and over 40 this season so far,” Schrader said. “We block and run and we will score, so that means to win our defense needs to show up.”
The championship is a rematch of an early-season game between the two perennial six-man powers. The Warriors came away with a 39-34 victory on Sept. 16th.
“We have had some great defensive games and other nights where we couldn’t stop anyone,” Schrader said. “For us to win Saturday we need to tackle and pressure the quarterback. We have the talent and the ability, now we just need to do it.”