A total of seven football teams in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area made the Class 1A state playoffs—Chiefland, Hawthorne, Union County, Fort White, Trenton, Bradford (Starke) and Newberry.
In Class 1A-Region 3, top seed Chiefland, which lost at Region 2 No. 1 seed Blountstown, 24-13, last Friday in the SSAC playoffs, received a bye.
“We played a really good opponent on Friday against Blountstown,” said Chiefland coach Adam Gore. “They’re historically a great program and it was a fun matchup. We came up a little short, but I felt like our kids showed that we could compete and play with teams of that caliber.”
It was the first time that Chiefland had started 9-0 since 2003. The Indians (9-1), who have rushed for over 3,000 yards this season, will host the winner of Friday’s game between No. 4 Lafayette (Mayo) and No. 5 Fort White in next Friday’s regional semifinals.
“If you don’t feel the pain of losing then you never understand the true joy of winning,” said Gore, who noted that his players reached out to him all weekend about correcting mistakes so they could take the next step. “We feel like it gave us confidence because we proved to people who we can play with. If anything, I feel like the loss has motivated our kids to work harder.”
Union County completed an unbeaten regular season with a 54-0 win at Cocoa Beach last Friday.
“Anytime you can go undefeated it’s special,” Union County coach Andrew Thomas said. “We persevered through some injuries early in the season, had a lot of different kids step in at different times and made an impact which I feel has made us better for a playoff run.”
The 10-0 Tigers are the No. 3 seed in 1A-Region 3 and will host No. 6 seed Trenton, where Thomas won two state titles. The winner travels to No. 2 seed Hilliard next Friday for the regional semifinals.
Hawthorne, which had its game against 5A playoff bound North Marion canceled due to weather last Friday, is the top seed in 1A-Region 4.
The 7-0 Hornets, who are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 1A, will play the winner of No. 4 Wildwood vs. No. 5 Fort Meade game next Friday.
Newberry, which lost to 4A playoff bound South Sumter (Bushnell) this past Friday, earned the No. 6 seed in the region.
The Panthers (5-5) will travel to No. 3 Bradford (Starke) (5-5) for the regional quarterfinals.
“Our regular season had some ups and downs, but it’s something that we can learn from and use to make us all better in the future,” said Newberry coach Ed Johnson.
Johnson said there were two things in particular that will be keys to a Panthers’ victory.
“Taking care of the football on offense and eliminating the big plays on defense,” he said. “Then, just believing that we belong and playing with a great amount of energy all night.”
Bradford ended the regular season with a 33-6 win against Fort White. The Indians were one of six playoff teams that the Tornadoes faced this year.
Despite a .500 record, Bradford coach Brian Tomlinson said the schedule made his team better.
“We scheduled that way to prepare us for the playoffs,” Tomlinson said. “We played against some of the best in North Florida. I believe it has helped our guys learn how to compete at a high level.”
Senior quarterback Amari Jones (113-of-212 passing for 1,686 yards, 14 TDs, 5 interceptions) leads the Tornadoes, who defeated the Panthers in the spring game.
“Newberry is always tough,” Tomlinson said. “They are well coached and always put their athletes in a position to be successful. We will have to play smart and not make mistakes in order to be successful.”
The winner will travel to No. 2 seed Pahokee next Friday for the regional semifinals.
Class 1A football playoffs – Regional Quarterfinals (Friday, Nov. 12)
1A-Region 3 Quarterfinals
No. 1 Chiefland (9-1) – Bye
No. 5 Fort White (5-4) at No. 4 Lafayette (Mayo) (7-3)
No. 6 Trenton (4-5) at No. 3 Union County (Lake Butler) (10-0)
1A-Region 4 Quarterfinals
No. 1 Hawthorne (7-0) – Bye
No. 6 Newberry (5-5) at No. 3 Bradford (Starke) (5-5)