Playoff games both deja vu and all newBy ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 15, 2002
With Wharton, Chamberlain and Jefferson begin their playoff runs tonight against three distinctly different teams. For Wharton, everything is new as first-time playoff participants. Chamberlain is trying to mirror last season's run to the Class 5A finals and Jefferson, loaded with talent but hurting from key injuries, tries to live up to its billing.
Each team finished the regular season 9-1. Wharton's lone loss was to Chamberlain while the Chiefs only loss was during Week One against East Bay. Jefferson's one defeat was against rival Armwood but the Dragon's rebounded to finish a game better than the Hawks and win their district.
Wharton plays its first playoff game in school history on the other side of the state at Melbourne. Chamberlain gets another crack at East Bay and Jefferson hosts Lakeland's George Jenkins. All games kick off at 7:30 p.m.
WHARTON (9-1) at MELBOURNE (8-2) CLASS 5A, REGION 2
Last week: Wharton defeated Tampa Bay Tech 38-7.
Last meeting: First meeting.
The skinny: The Class 5A, District 6 runners-up ended the season with six straight wins, including a huge district win against powerhouse Hillsborough back in October.
The edge: Wharton. Melbourne finished with eight wins but the Bulldogs are only hosting their second playoff game since 1990. If the Wildcats don't buy into the playoff pressure, they should be okay.
"Playing Wharton is like the 'Nightmare on Elm Street." said Melbourne coach Mike Vogt. "They're big and fast and have 34 seniors."
EAST BAY (7-3) at CHAMBERLAIN (9-1) CLASS 5A, REGION 2
Last week: Chamberlain defeated Plant City 35-7.
Last meeting: East Bay defeated Chamberlain 14-13 during the first week of the regular season.
The skinny: Does this sound familiar? Last season, Chamberlain opened the year with a 14-9 loss to East Bay before regrouping to win 11 straight on their way to the state finals. After losing to the Indians in Week One this year, Chamberlain has ripped off nine straight wins.
The edge: Make it 10. Chamberlain is talented on both sides of the ball and focused on getting back to the finals.
LAKELAND GEORGE JENKINS (7-3) at JEFFERSON (9-1) CLASS 4A, REGION 3
Last week: Jefferson defeated Hillsborough 13-10.
Last meeting: First meeting.
The skinny: Jefferson is a dangerous team but will be without two of its top players. Offensive lineman Donnie Woods and tailback Rashaun Grant are out with injuries. Quarterback Andre Caldwell, however, is playing and has performed well in big games this season.
The edge: Advantage Jefferson. Jenkins is making just its second playoff appearance in school history and Jefferson is no stranger to Polk County competition. The Dragons beat Auburndale, Winter Haven and Lake Gibson while advancing to the state semifinals last year.
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