Dr. Phillips Panthers (11-2) at Wekiva Mustangs (12-1)
When: Friday, 7:30pm
Where: Baptiste Orthodontics Stadium, Apopka (2525 Cady Way)
TV: Spectrum Sports (Channel 47 and HD 1147)
Coaches: Dr. Phillips – Rodney Wells (7th, 78-14); Wekiva – Rich Bedesem (2nd, 19-5)
About the matchup: Defensive juggernauts Dr. Phillips and Wekiva meet in just the third ever state semifinal between Orange County schools. These teams met on October 5 with the Mustangs scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns for a 14-0 win.
Dr. Phillips won back-to-back road games against Osceola and Sarasota Riverview to reach the state semifinals for the second consecutive season. The Panthers scored a touchdown with 15 seconds left to knock off the Kowboys 17-13 and got a fourth quarter fumble return touchdown to hold off Sarasota Riverview 28-19 last week. Senior dual threat quarterback BeSean McCray, an East Ridge transfer, has thrown for 1,908 yards and 17 touchdowns with 600 rushing yards and eight more scores. Devodney Alford, part of a running back by committee attack last year, has almost half of the team’s carries this season. The senior has 1,080 rush yards and 12 touchdowns. Davarius Bargnare is DP’s leading receiver (47 receptions, 660 yards, 8 TD) while Michael Fox, Devon Buckhanon and Trey Schyck all factor into the passing game. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Stephen Dix leads the team in tackles (130), tackles for loss (29) and sacks (10). Twins Japerri (125 tk, 21 TFL, 4 forced fumbles) and Jaquarri Powell (96 tk, 23 TFL, 7 sacks) are game wreckers at outside linebacker. Jaquarri returned a fumble 78 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown last week. The Panthers have elite secondary players in Tennessee commit Tanner Ingle and Virginia Tech commit Braxton Clark. DP has a reliable kicker/punter in Sterling Stockwell, who is 38/41 on PAT’s and 6/10 on field goals.
Wekiva opened in 2007 and has experienced a number of firsts this season. The Mustangs beat rival Apopka for the first time ever, won their first district title and notched their first playoff win three weeks ago against Lake Mary. Last week, Wekiva smothered Winter Park 33-6 for their first road playoff victory. The Mustangs forced six turnovers, recorded a safety and a defensive touchdown on Erion Lowe’s one yard pick six. Wekiva has one of the top defenses in the state – they’re allowing only 9.3 points per game with 35 takeaways and three shutouts. The success of that unit starts with an intimidating defensive line comprised of three juniors – Tyler Davis, Lowe and Norell Pollard. Davis, rated as the ninth best junior defensive tackle in the nation by 247 Sports, leads the team with 89 tackles and 20 sacks. The secondary includes two Apopka transfers, Jarvis Ware and Cayvian Holmes. Ware leads the team with five interceptions while Holmes had a Pick 6 to seal the DP win. 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 second half of the Dr. Phillips regular season. The senior, who overcame three first half interceptions against Boone two weeks ago, has thrown for 12 touchdowns and leads the team in rushing. Birthel Bridges (8 TD) figures to be featured heavily in the run game while Terrence Moore (6 TD) is a deep threat as a receiver.
Three and out:
1. Wekiva has a defensive touchdown (Erion Lowe one yard INT return) and a special teams touchdown (Jarvis Ware kickoff return) so far in the postseason.
2. This is the seventh consecutive season that Dr. Phillips has won nine or more games.
3. Wekiva was 0-4 all-time against Dr. Phillips before beating the Panthers 14-0 on October 5.