P.K. Yonge’s playoff hopes remain alive

P.K. Yonge travels to Providence (Jacksonville) tonight riding a four-game win streak and a shot at keeping its playoff hopes alive. 

The Blue Wave (5-3) face the Class 3A Stallions (3-5) with kickoff starting at 6:30 p.m.

Senior quarterback A.J. Small has been one of the biggest pieces to the Blue Wave’s success.

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Small has over 1,100 yards passing and averages six yards per carry on 83 runs this season.

“First of all, it’s his leadership, the boys look to him, he’s the face of P.K. and he’s been that way for about five or six years now,” said first-year coach Kevin Doelling. “But when it comes to being on the field, whether it’s offense or defense, the boys follow him.

“He’s in complete control when he’s on the offensive side of the ball. He’s such a fearless, strong, physical opponent and something that you have to game plan for and I’m super excited to have him on the field and super excited to be back with him in his final year.”

Last week, P.K. Yonge handed Fort White its first home loss of the season with a 28-14 win against the Indians.

The Blue Wave’s winning streak is on the heels of a three-game losing streak, but that was against tough competition.

P.K. lost at home to Class 1A No. 1 Hawthorne, 24-0, on Sept. 3, followed by a 28-13 loss to 1A No. 3 Union County in Lake Butler two weeks later. They also lost in double overtime, 33-27, at Baldwin on Sept. 24.

But they are unblemished in October.

“The chemistry is really coming together,” Doelling said. “The boys are working hard. Even after the three losses they kept their nose to the grind and understood what the task was.”

In their past four games, the Blue Wave averaged 33.8 points per game.

“We knew we weren’t going undefeated,” said Doelling, who noted the tough teams the Blue Wave have played so far. “We have an opportunity to make the playoffs and make a run so we’re right on track. We’re right where we want to be right now.”

The Blue Wave are currently seventh in Class 3A-Region 1, with the top six teams making the postseason.

However, following tonight’s game against the Stallions, P.K. Yonge will return home next Friday for Senior Night against currently unbeaten Keystone Heights. The Indians will likely be 9-0 entering the game.

That game could go a long way in determining whether or not P.K. Yonge makes it to the state playoffs in Doelling’s first season.

“Lots of emotion for Senior Night,” Doelling said. “Keystone is expected to be 9-0 when they get there. Hopefully at the end of the day we will be 6-3 and looking for a playoff spot if we beat Keystone. There’s going to be a lot riding on it. It’s going to be one of the biggest games that P.K. has had in quite a few years.”

But first, the Blue Wave need to take care of business in Jacksonville tonight.

“That’s a well-coached team,” Doelling said. “We need to make sure that we can slow that run attack down. They’ve got number seven back (running back Tavio Tauler). We need to make sure we keep an eye on him, and we also need to make sure that we execute on the offensive side of the ball. We get some big explosive plays, but can we maintain some good plays.”

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