Football: Class 5A state semifinal preview

Class 5A state semifinal

Jesuit (13-0) at Plantation American Heritage (9-2), 7:30

How they got here: Jesuit d. River Ridge 50-7, d. Chamberlain 35-7, d. Orlando Bishop Moore 43-23, d. Orlando Jones 40-24; Plantation American Heritage d. Palm Bay 49-0, d. Northwestern 12-3, d. Rockledge 12-3, d. Eau Gallie 38-16. 

Stat leaders: Jesuit: QB Joe Pesansky (216.8 passing yards per game); RB Joquez Smith, So. (89.5 rushing yards per game); WR Junior Vaneross, Jr. (60.6 receiving yards per game); WR Jaydn Girard, So. (72.3 receiving yards per game); OL Tre’quan Alexander (48 pancake blocks this season); LB AJ Cottrill, Jr. (14.2 tackles per game); DL Peter Pesansky, Fr.. (0.7 sacks per game); DB Tyler Corish, Sr. (0.4 interceptions per game). Plantation American Heritage: QB Blake Murphy, So., (81.7 passing yards per game); RB Mark Fletcher, So. (100.0 rushing yards per game); LB David Vadala, So., (6.3 tackles, 1.0 sacks per game); DL/LB Marvin Jones Jr., Jr. (1.0 sacks per game); DB Daemon Fagan, So. (0.4 interceptions per game).  

Outlook: Jesuit is in the state semifinals for the fifth time in the past six seasons. Each time the Tigers lost to the eventual state, including a 2016 meeting with American Heritage (21-14). In that matchup, Jesuit relied on the running of Malik Davis, now at Florida. Davis gained 177 yards and the Tigers kept it close. This time, the offense is much more balanced with quarterback Joe Pesansky, a quartet of playmaking receivers and running back Joquez Smith. Together, they have racked up 547 points this season. Now comes the biggest challenge yet. The Patriots, who won four state titles in a five-year span (2013-17), are back in the state semifinals after a two-year absence. They are led by a defense that has allowed just 127 points all season. Such stinginess is a big reason American Heritage has knocked defending 3A state champion Chaminade-Madonna and defending 5A state champion Miami Northwestern this season. 

Pinkos’ pick: Plantation American Heritage by 7

Putnam’s prediction: Jesuit 24-21