This Friday night it’s a small school showdown in Levy County.
The Chiefland football team will host Union County (Lake Butler) for the right to go to the Class 1A state semifinals.
However, it took a 28-27 win at home against Lafayette(Mayo) in last week’s regional semifinals for Chiefland to reach the 1A-Region 3 Final. The top-seeded Indians defeated the No. 4 seed Hornets on the road, 42-7, on Oct. 15, but this time it took a goal-line stand on a 2-point conversion in overtime to get the victory.
“It’s really hard to beat a team twice in a year,” Chiefland coach Adam Gore said. “We’re young. You can coach them up as much as you want to, but sometimes they need to experience that. They need to be put in those situations.”
Gore said that Lafayette was the more physical team in the first half, but the Indians answered.
“I love the way that our kids responded,” he said. “We played hard in the second half and we started taking control of the line of scrimmage a little bit.”
The stakes are even higher this week for the Indians (10-1), who will host Union County for the right to advance to the final four.
“It’s going to be fun,” Gore said. “We didn’t expect to be a 1-seed but here we are, so we’re happy. It’s going to be a great environment. This is what you play high school football for is to be in situations like this, opportunities like this and experiences you will tell the rest of your life, so I’m happy for our kids.”
The visiting Tigers (12-0), the No. 3 seed, defeated No. 2 seed Hilliard on the road, 52-14, last week in the regional semifinals. They also blasted Trenton, 48-13, in the opening round.
The 52 points was the second time in three weeks that Union County had scored 50 or more points in a game. It also marked the 10th straight game that the Tigers had scored 28 or more points in a game, including six straight games of 42 or more points.
“We have definitely been playing well as of late,” said Union County coach Andrew Thomas. “We are undefeated, so we have played pretty good all year. We have gotten pretty healthy down the stretch…that’s helped, more consistency.”
Thomas said his team has earned their success this year.
“Our kids have bought into our program and we work,” he said. “I’d say the biggest reason for our success is the work and time our kids put into what we do and the belief in each other and coaches.”
In order to advance, the Tigers will have to beat a Chiefland team that is averaging 40 points per game. The Indians have hung half a hundred on four opponents this season.
“Chiefland is a really good team,” Thomas said. “They are big, athletic, play hard and physical. Adam has done a great job getting them where they are, and we are going to have to play well to have a chance to win over there.”
Gore and Thomas are very familiar with each other.
“I’ve actually known Coach Thomas a really long time,” Gore said. “His brother is my brother-in-law. They’re a well-coached team. They’ve got a great staff, a great program, great kids. They’re a really good football team. It’s going to be a great opportunity to play them and get to play them in Chiefland.”
Expect this game to be won in the trenches.
Chiefland has rushed for over 3,000 yards this season, led by sophomore 1,000-yard rusher Dakota Fisher.
Union County, which rushed for 432 yards last week against the Red Flashes (9-2), has 3,892 yards on the ground. Juniors Rayvon Durant and AJ Cortese combined for 273 yards on the ground at Hilliard.
Matthew Kilgore contributed to this report.