No. 3 Wekiva Mustangs (11-1) at No. 2 Winter Park Wildcats (12-0)
When: Friday, 7:30pm
Where: Showalter Field, Winter Park (2525 Cady Way)
TV: Spectrum Sports (Channel 47 and HD 1147)
Coaches: Wekiva – Rich Bedesem (2nd, 18-5); Winter Park – Tim Shifflet (11th, 82-42);
About the matchup: Only four Central Florida teams remain in the state playoffs and two of them go head-to-head on Friday night. This is the fourth meeting between Winter Park and Wekiva in the last 14 months. The Wildcats won earlier this season 10-6 on a Brian Gomez touchdown reception with 40 seconds remaining.
Wekiva opened in 2007 and is experiencing its most memorable season ever. It includes the program’s first victory against rival Apopka, first district title and the first playoff win. Wekiva annihilated Lake Mary in the first round of the playoffs then rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit last week to beat Boone 24-20. The Mustangs have one of the top defenses in Central Florida – they’re allowing only 9.6 points per game with three shutouts. The success of that defense starts with an intimidating defensive line comprised of three juniors – Tyler Davis, Erion Lowe and Norell Pollard. Davis is rated as the ninth best junior defensive tackle in the nation by 247 Sports and his list of offers includes Florida, Florida State, Ohio State and Michigan. The secondary includes two Apopka transfers, Jarvis Ware and Cayvian Holmes. Wekiva’s roster has a total of nine players that suited up for Apopka last year. The Mustangs offense has been much better since the team committed to Brandon Williams as the starting quarterback in the middle of the season. The senior, who overcame three first half interceptions last week, has thrown for 10 touchdowns and leads the team in rushing. Birthel Bridges (7 TD) figures to be featured heavily in the run game while Terrence Moore (4 TD) is a deep threat as a receiver.
Winter Park is 12-0 for just the second time in 90 years of football. The Wildcats rallied to beat Apopka 34-27 last week in the second round of the playoffs. Wide receiver Brian Gomez scored all five touchdowns for the Wildcats, including a 43-yard catch-and-run with 11:10 remaining to put Winter Park in front for good. Gomez has 13 total touchdowns this season. Quarterback Cameron Legree has been fantastic in his second year as a starter. He’s thrown for 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions while rushing for six more scores. Junior Tyrone Davis, a Lyman transfer, has rushed for 1,079 yards and 13 touchdowns. An undersized but feisty defense is allowing 9.4 points per game. Senior linebacker Cullen Honohan, a Holy Cross commit, has 139 tackles this year and 273 for his career. Juanye Tillman and J.J. Valle Smith are over 100 tackles for the season while Oviedo transfer Michael Lopez has nine interceptions. The Wildcats defense has 39 takeaways – 21 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries – and the team is a +30 in turnover margin.
Three and out:
1. Bedesem has reached the playoffs in all four of his seasons as a head coach. He guided Edgewater to the postseason in 2014-15 and led the Mustangs to the playoffs last year.
2. Winter Park went undefeated in the regular season for the third time in program history, matching the 1983 and 2010 teams. The Wildcats advanced to the state semifinals in ’83 and lost i
3. Wekiva is 14-2 in their last 16 games with both losses coming at the hands of Winter Park.