By BOB PUTNAM, RODNEY PAGE and JOHN C. COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 16, 2001
Northeast (10-1) at Naples (8-2)
GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 275 to I-75 south. Take CR-896 (exit 16) and merge right onto Pine Ridge Road. Take a left at Airport Pulling Road N. Turn right onto Golden Gate Parkway.
AT STAKE: The winner will advance to the regional final and play the Bradenton Manatee-Seminole winner.
THE SKINNY: Naples won its first home playoff game in 19 years last week against Gibbs. This week, the Golden Eagles expect another big crowd. To take the crowd out of it, Northeast has to establish its running game. Bo Washington, who broke his hand against Gibbs last month, is healthy and ran for 127 yards in last week's win against East Lake. If the Vikings have to abandon the run, watch out. Naples recorded five sacks last week, three from lineman Francisco Clervoix. Northeast's bigger test will come on defense. The Vikings have to stop running back Duane Coleman, who ran for 356 yards and five touchdowns last week. What's scary is he didn't play the fourth quarter. However, Northeast has a big advantage in playoff experience. The Vikings are in the postseason for the sixth time in the past seven years.
AT STAKE: The winner will advance to the regional final and play the Northeast-Naples winner.
THE SKINNY: Both teams used to play regularly in the 1970s but have gone separate ways since. Former Gaither coach Howie DeCristofaro is in his first year at Manatee, replacing longtime coach Joe Kinnan. DeCristofaro hasn't made many changes. The offense still relies on the run. This season, Jordan Biggers and Edrick Hines carried the load. The Warhawks have enough talent to stop the run. D'Qwell Jackson is the leader of Seminole's defense. With Manatee outnumbering the Warhawks by 20 to 30 players, quick stops by Seminole's defense will be key to avoid fatigue from its two-way players. On offense, the Warhawks have shown a lot more balance thanks to the play of quarterback T.J. Layfield.
GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 275 to I-75 south. Take SR-884 (exit 22) and merge right. Turn left on Fowler Street. Turn left on S. Cleveland Avenue. Turn left on Beacon Manor Drive. School is on Beacon Boulevard.
AT STAKE: The winner will advance to the regional final and will play the Fort Meade-Belle Glade Glades Day winner.
THE SKINNY: This will be a stiff test for the Crusaders, and it doesn't help being on the road. Keswick Christian will bring a heavy dose of the Schooleys, quarterback Cris and running back Chad. Cris was the star last week in a 27-12 win against Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic with 113 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Chad had 126 yards rushing. For Evangelical, defense has been the key. The Sentinels have outscored opponents 394-105 in 11 games, and in the last four, they've recorded three shutouts and allowed six points. Both teams have one common opponent, Shorecrest. Evangelical defeated the Chargers 35-6 on opening night. Keswick Christian defeated Shorecrest 35-14 on Sept. 28. Junior wingback Corey Lynch is the Sentinels' offensive threat.
GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 4 east to Lakeland exit 18 (U.S. 98). Go North to Marcum Road, take a right and stadium is a half of a mile on the right.
AT STAKE: The winner will advance to the region final and will play the Winter Haven-Jefferson winner.
THE SKINNY: Tarpon Springs witnessed firsthand the many weapons the Braves possess, particularly the offensive quartet of quarterback Alex Dukes, 6-foot-3 wide receiver Tito Pollice and running backs Rod McNeal and Lathon Gaines. Dukes is a three-year starter who led Polk County in completions (99), completion percentage (59.5), yards (1,495) and touchdown passes (16). Pollice caught many of those passes, hauling in 39 for 548 yards. And while Gaines is a multipurpose back who had nearly 1,000 yards combined receiving and rushing, McNeal is a big-play guy. Lakewood has enough athletes to slow Lake Gibson down more than the Spongers could. Lakewood allowed only 133 points this season, but 55 of those have come the past two weeks. Running back Darrian Copeland (1,204 yards, 12 TDs) and quarterback Pat Carter (1,889 passing yards, 15 TDs) lead the Spartans.