No. 20 Flagler Palm Coast Bulldogs (6-0, 1-0 in 8A, District 1) at No. 10 Spruce Creek Hawks (5-0, 2-0)
When: Friday, 7:30pm
Where: Pop Johnson Field at ICI Stadium, Port Orange (801 Taylor Rd.)
TV: Spectrum Sports (Channel 47 and HD 1147)
Coaches: FPC – Travis Roland (1st, 6-0); Spruce Creek – Andy Price (5th, 29-18)
About the matchup: Undefeated teams meet up in what’s being billed as the most important game of the season in Volusia-Flagler county area. The winner of Friday’s game will be in the driver’s seat in the 8A, District 1 race.
One year has made a tremendous difference for Flagler Palm Coast. The Bulldogs were 1-5 and completely out of playoff contention at this point last season. FPC is currently at 6-0 and is the second seed in 8A, Region 1 in the latest FHSAA playoff projections. The Bulldogs won three games in an eight day span last week with victories against Jacksonville Sandalwood, Seabreeze and Deltona. Their opportunistic defense forced 12 turnovers in those three games. Sophomore Ty Jenkins leads the team in rushing and receiving and is responsible for 11 of the team’s 26 offensive touchdowns. The Bulldogs are continuing to use a two quarterback system with senior Ryan Freeman and sophomore Donovan Montoyo sharing responsibilities. Defensively, Tallin Coates and Matanzas transfer Zach Wagner lead Volusia County with 65 and 58 tackles, respectively, while Nelson Paul has 47 tackles, 20 for loss and 11 sacks. The Bulldogs are a +14 in turnover margin with 18 takeaways and only four turnovers.
Spruce Creek won the 8A, District 1 title last season and has rolled through its five opponents so far, outscoring them 231-26 with three shutouts. Senior quarterback Kyle Minckler, a three-year starter, has thrown for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns. His top target is Hayden Flood, who has 21 catches for 426 yards and seven scores. Jacquez Lord has been the team’s primary rusher – he has eight touchdowns and is averaging 9.3 yards per carry. The biggest prospect in the game is sophomore outside linebacker Tyler Berrong. He’s 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and picked up offers from Florida and North Carolina during the summer. Berrong has 33 tackles and two interceptions. Junior linebacker Nick Passamonte leads the team in tackles with 36. While not as proficient as FPC in generating turnovers, Spruce Creek’s defense does have 12 takeaways and the Hawks are a +8 in turnover margin.
Three and out:
1. Spruce Creek has won three of the last four meetings in this series, including a 16-6 victory last season en route to the district title.
2. Spruce Creek is 5-0 for the first time since 1999, when the Hawks started 9-0 and lost in the second round of the playoffs.
3. FPC coach Travis Roland played for Spruce Creek coach Andy Price when he was an eighth grader at Warner Christian.