Football: Class 7A state semifinal preview

Class 7A state semifinal

Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (6-1) at Bloomingdale (12-0), 7

How they got here: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas d. Lehigh Acres Lehigh 50-14, d. Bradenton Manatee 45-0, d. Venice 29-8; Bloomingdale d. Plant City 35-21, d. Pinellas Park 25-10, d. Armwood 24-14, d. Bloomingdale 36-33. 

Stat leaders: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas: QB Zion Turner, Jr. (112.9 passing yards per game); RB Anthony Hankerson, Jr. (121.1 rushing yards per game); WR Bralon Brown, Sr. (39.3 receiving yards per game); LB Jaydon Hood, Sr. (7.4 tackles per game); DL/LB Dallas Turner, Sr. (1.6 sacks per game), DB Jarin Davis, Jr. (0.4 interceptions per game); Bloomingdale: QB Tre Simmons (207.5 passing yards per game); WR Agiye Hall, Sr. (93.5 receiving yards per game); LB Wa’myron Howard, Sr. (6.4 tackles per game); DL Malik Simmons, Sr., (1.0 sacks per game); DB Jayden Williams, Sr. (0.3 interceptions per game).   

Outlook: The Bulls are in the playoffs for the fourth straight season, the longest postseason run in school history. After making the region final in 2018, Bloomingdale took the step by reaching the state semifinals for the first time this season. To get to the final, the Bulls will have to do something no other team from Tampa Bay (counties including Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas) has ever done: beat Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in the playoffs. The Raiders have faced area opponents eight times (Jefferson, Largo and Plant twice and East Lake and Northeast) and won each one by at least 11 points, the last coming in a 45-6 win over Plant in the 2016 Class 7A state title game. Bloomingdale will not be intimidated, especially after playing a schedule that included Armwood (twice), Tampa Bay Tech (twice) and Lakeland. But the Bulls cannot afford to get off to a slow start like they have done in a few of their playoff games in the past month.    

Pinkos’ pick: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas by 16

Putnam’s prediction: Bloomingdale 24-23