The novel coronavirus continues to exact a significant toll on the varsity football season.
Frostproof missed out on a game for the sixth time this season, but the end result was a forfeit win over Cape Coral Oasis that moved the Bulldogs (4-0) into the Class 3A-Region 3 semifinals.
First-year head coach Rod McDowell’s team is now preparing for an away game versus Tampa Berkeley Prep – a 33-6 regional quarterfinal winner over Bishop Verot – on Friday, Nov. 20.
The Fort Meade Miners, who had to cancel their Nov. 6 meeting with rival Frostproof over virus concerns, were back on the field last Saturday (instead of Friday) in an area where Tropical Storm Eta passed through a few days earlier. Head coach Jemalle Cornelius watched his group score 33 second-quarter points en route to a decisive 47-0 victory over host Williston in the Class 1A regional quarterfinals.
Unfortunately, the playoff journey for previously undefeated Bartow ended after the Class 7A play-in round.
Bartow thrived during the regular season with an 8-0 mark and seven wins by double-digit margins, but the Yellow Jackets took the field last Friday without starting quarterback Lin Johnson (COVID-19 contact tracing) and watched visiting Tampa Bay Tech pull away down the stretch for a 39-14 victory.
Tampa Bay Tech recorded the game’s final 19 points after Bartow (8-1) had closed within 20-14 in the third quarter. Senior quarterback David Wright accounted for six total touchdowns for the Titans, who had scored 171 points in their previous three games.
Fort Meade (5-3) is scheduled to play at Hawthorne (7-2) on Friday, Nov. 20, with a berth in the Class 1A-Region 4 final at stake. Hawthorne defeated Chiefland 40-0 last week.
The Miners extended their current winning streak to four by shutting out Williston. Cameron Johnson rushed for three touchdowns, Rafael Cabrera threw a pair of TD passes and Jon Cole had a 99-yard touchdown to help lead the way for Fort Meade, which led 40-0 at halftime.
Auburndale (5-3) and Lake Wales (4-1) also advanced in the FHSAA state playoffs last week.
The Bloodhounds overcame an early deficit against host Tampa King and cruised to a 45-10 victory in Class 6A-Region 3. Zach Tanner passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score for Auburndale, which outscored the Lions 39-0 over the final three quarters.
Jason Figley Jr. had four catches for 113 yards and one touchdown and Dorian Webster (10-yard TD reception) paced the running game with 68 yards on 12 attempts. The Bloodhounds, who emerged victorious in two play-in rounds, are slated to return home on Friday (Nov. 20) against 7-1 Hillsborough in the regional quarterfinals.
Another team headed to the regional quarterfinals is Lake Wales, which rebounded from a loss to Bartow the previous week by making quick work of St. Petersburg Gibbs. The Highlanders led Gibbs 21-0 after the first quarter at Legion Field and never looked back during a 48-14 victory in a Class 5A-Region 3 second-round play-in game.
Lake Wales is set to host Orlando Bishop Moore (5-2) this Friday, with the winner advancing to the 5A-3 semifinals on Nov. 27 against Tampa Jesuit or Tampa Chamberlain.
Josh Burley (14, 9 and 60 yards) and Marquish Seabon (40 and 45 yards) combined for five rushing touchdowns against Gibbs. Lake Wales’ big-play offense also included Marari McCullough’s 45-yard scoring run and Tyron Summerall’s 45-yard TD pass to Amani Brown.
Winter Haven (3-6) drew Lakeland in the Class 7A-Region 3 play-in round last Friday and the visiting Dreadnaughts scored the final 28 points in a 42-14 triumph. The Blue Devils found themselves in a 14-14 tie when Lakeland reached the end zone on the last play of the first half as well as the second-half opening kickoff.