Football: Clearwater Central Catholic vs. Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna preview (Class 1M state final) — Dec. 8

Football State Finals (Classes 1M, 1S, Rural)

All games are played at Tallahassee’s Gene Cox Stadium. Admission is $17 via GoFan, which already includes a $2 fee for parking.

Class 1M

Clearwater Central Catholic (12-1) vs. Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna (12-0), 7. tonight

How they got here: Clearwater Central Catholic d. Indian Rocks Christian 63-12, d. Carrollwood Day 21-11, d. Jacksonville University Christian 34-29. Chaminade-Madonna d. Hollywood Avante Garde Academy 48-0, d. West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman 49-16, d. Miami Tru North Classical Academy 56-0.

Stat leaders
CategoryClearwater Central CatholicHollywood Chaminade-Madonna
Passing yardsJershaun Newton, 2,113 (23 TDs)Cedrick Bailey, 2,981 (42 TDs)
Rushing yardsLenwood Sapp, 1,212 (15 TDs)Davion Gause, 956 (17 TDs)
Receiving yardsNate Johnson III, 895 (8 TDs)Jeremiah Smith, 960 (18 TDs)
TacklesAndy Jaffe, 110Jeno Junius, 110
SacksCarson Schiavello, 6Zach Crothers, 14
InterceptionsTwo tied with four. Chris Ewald, 4

After coming close for so many years, Clearwater Central Catholic got past the state semifinal hurdle in dramatic fashion to reach the title for the second time in school history.

Now, the Marauders will try to become the first Pinellas County school to win a state title in 11-man football (the county has numerous eight-man titles, including two straight by Shorecrest).

CCC did it with some last-minute flair, rallying to beat Jacksonville University Christian 34-29. Down 29-27, the Marauders got a fourth-down stop that was inches short and then went 80 yards in the final two minutes for the go-ahead score on a pass from Jershaun Newton to Nate Johnson III.

That extended CCC’s win streak to 11 games.

Now comes the hard part.

To keep that streak intact — and bring home an elusive state title — the Marauders have to get past defending state champion Chaminade-Madonna.

The undefeated Lions are ranked No. 1 in the class, No. 3 overall in the state and No. 5 nationally according to MaxPreps. This is their seventh straight state final appearance. They have four titles in that span, including three straight championships from 2017-19.

Chaminade beat CCC in the semifinals each time during that three-year of titles.

But those setbacks have only motivated the Marauders.

The offense might be the best in school history. Jershaun Newton has passed for more than 2,000 yards and rushed for more than more than 1,000. CCC has another 1,000-yard rusher in Lenwood Sapp and a receiver, Nate Johnson III, who is 105 yards away from reaching 1,000.

Maintaining their production, though, could be difficult. The Lions have posted shutouts in six of their last games.

On defense, CCC will have to contain Chaminade’s potent air attack, led by quarterback Cedrick Bailey, who has thrown for 42 touchdowns this season.

Still, the Lions’ schedule was front-loaded with difficult games the first month of the season. They have only played three teams with winning records since then and have not been involved in a competitive contest in nearly two months.

The Marauders, meanwhile, know how to win close games, rallying to beat Jesuit in the regular season and Jacksonville University Christian — both on the road.