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Football: Northside Christian at Naples First Baptist preview

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2A region final

Northside Christian (7-2) at Naples First Baptist (9-1), 7:30

The Mustangs are in the playoffs for the fifth time in the past seven seasons and are in the region finals for the second straight year. Northside Christian already knows how to battle back from large deficits in the postseason. In last year’s region semifinals, they stormed back from a double-digit deficit to beat Carrollwood Day. Last week, the Mustangs fell behind 21-7 at the half before rallying to beat Community School of Naples 32-27. That extended Northside Christian’s win streak to five. The Mustangs have balance on offense. Quarterback Will Griffin, an eighth-grader, took over as the starter this season and has thrown for more than 300 yards four times and at least four touchdowns five times this season. Running back Zuri Watson, a sophomore, has turned it on late in the season, rushing for than 100 yards in each of his last two games. The Lions, ranked fourth in the class by MaxPreps, have been dominant this season. Eight of their nine wins have been by 20 or more points, including a 43-0 rout over two-time defending state semifinalist Seffner Christian in last week’s region semifinals. 

Stat leaders

CategoryNorthside ChristianNaples First Baptist
Passing yardsWill Griffin, 2,232 (27 TDs, 12 INTs)Ty Keller, 2,197 (33 TDs, 5 INTs)
Rushing yardsZuri Watson, 647 (8 TDs)Richemard Mellien, 374 (5 TDs)
Receiving yardsOne Williams, 746 (8 TDs)Olsen Henry, 915 (15 TDs)
TacklesBrayden Scarbro, 39Michael Votta, 70
SacksTwo players tied with 4 ½Andrew Fabela, 7
InterceptionsJoe Key, 4Five players tied with one.
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Football: Wharton at Tampa Bay Tech preview

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7A region final

Wharton (9-2) at Tampa Bay Tech (12-0), 7:30

This is a rematch from a regular season game the Titans won 21-12. That win not only clinched the district title for Tampa Bay Tech but also helped the program go undefeated in the regular season for the first time. The Titans schedule included nine games against teams that made the playoffs. Playing — and beating — such tough competition is the reason why Tampa Bay Tech earned the top overall seed in 7A based on RPI rankings.  The offense has displayed some nice balance with more than 2,000 yards rushing and passing this season. Quarterback Xavione Washington, a transfer from Tampa Catholic, took over as the starter and had played well down the stretch, throwing for 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions the last seven games. Defensively, the Titans are led up front with a furious pass rush that has recorded 38 sacks this season. The Wildcats are road warriors. They have won all road the past two seasons under coach Mike Williams, including two straight in the playoffs so far to reach the region final. Wharton’s strength is its defense, which has allowed just 93 points all season and has posted four shutouts. Last week, the Wildcats stymied Lehigh’s five-star running back Richard Young, who held to his lowest rushing total of the season. Wharton’s defensive playmakers also have a knack for finding the end zone once they get their hands on the ball. The Wildcats have scored a whopping 12 defensive touchdowns this season (five fumble returns, seven interception returns). 

Stat leaders

CategoryWhartonTampa Bay Tech
Passing yardsCarson Mohler, 947 (10 TDs, 5 INTs)Xavione Washington, 1,932 (19 TDs, 7 INTs)
Rushing yardsArkese Parks, 570 yards (7 TDs)James Evans, 917 yards (14 TDs)
Receiving yardsJason Cornwall, 227 (2 TDs)Greg Gaines III, 741 yards (9 TDs)
TacklesCameron Campbell, 92Ed Gwinn, 78
SacksBooker Pickett Jr., 19Keyon Clark, 15
InterceptionsTwo players tied with four. Two players tied with three.
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Football: Hillsborough at Jesuit preview

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Class 6A

Hillsborough (10-2) at Jesuit (12-0), 7:30

This a rematch from a regular season game the Tigers won 28-7. Jesuit has stayed perfect and is now ranked No. 12 in the nation by MaxPreps. Another win and the Tigers will be in the state semifinals for the fourth straight season and the sixth time in the past seven seasons. Defensively, Jesuit has ranked among the best in the state, allowing just 85 points this season and posting six shutouts, including five straight from Oct. 15-Nov. 12. On offense, the Tigers’ Junior Vandeross has turned it up a notch, scoring at least two touchdowns in three of the last four games, including four in last week’s win over Braden River. Since losing to Jesuit, the Terriers have won eight straight. They have had to make adjustments along the way. Starting quarterback Caleb Pierce went down with an injury midway through the season. Shaun Joshi took over and has led Hillsborough to six straight wins. The Terriers also have some balance on offense thanks to depth in the running game. Four players have rushed for more than 400 yards this season. Defensively, Hillsborough has been tough, allowing seven points or less in seven of their past eight games. 

Stat leaders

CategoryHillsboroughJesuit
Passing yardsShaun Joshi, 936 (11 TDs, 4 INTs)Luke Knight, 1,818 (23 TDs, 5 INTs)
Rushing yardsJordaan Bailey, 677 (4 TDs)Joquez Smith, 1,541 (23 TDs)
Receiving yardsJordaan Bailey, 365 (4 TDs)Junior Vandeross, 666 (7 TDs)
TacklesJoeseph Sipp Jr., 111AJ Cottrill, 92
SacksJustin Anderson, 6Wayne Quin, 6
InterceptionsLaterrian Hicks, 4Two players tied with two.
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Boys Basketball

Friday sports schedule — Nov. 26

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Region finals

Class 7A

Wharton at Tampa Bay Tech, 7:30

Class 6A

Hillsborough at Jesuit, 7:30

Class 5A 

Sebring at Clearwater, 7:30

Class 4A

Clewiston at Lakewood, 7:30

Class 3A

Clearwater Central Catholic at Berkeley Prep, 7:30

Class 2A

Zephyrhills Christian at Orlando Christian Prep, 7:30

Northside Christian at Naples First Baptist, 7:30

Boys basketball

Winthrop College Prep at Bradenton Saint Stephen’s, 3

West Oaks vs. Carrollwood Day, 5:30

Strawberry Crest at Seffner Christian, 6

Florida Get Down Showcase

Calvary Christian vs. Lake Nona, 10 a.m.

Jackie Simmons Thanksgiving Classic

Tampa Catholic vs. Andrew Jackson, 8:30

Girls basketball

Feast Week Classic at Carrollwood Day

East Bay vs. North Port, 11:30

Calvary Christian vs. Wesley Chapel, 1

Bishop McLaughlin vs. Wharton, 2:30

Orlando Bishop Moore vs. Tampa Catholic, 4

Seffner Christian vs. Armwood, 7

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