BY ANDREAS BUTLER
In a defensive battle of two playoff teams, it was the Jacksonville Bolles Bulldogs who came away with a 21-10 win over the Mainland Buccaneers at Daytona Stadium on Nov. 1.
The Bulldogs used their running game on offense and their defense made enough plays.
“They are an extremely good and athletic team. We just tried to shrink the game down and make plays when it mattered most,” said Matt Toblin, Bolles’ head coach.
Bucs had their chance
The Buccaneers had too many missed opportunities and penalties.
“The penalties definitely hurt, and we just didn’t do a good enough job in the red zone,” Scott Wilson, Mainland’s head coach.
Bolles (8-1) led 21-3 after Caden Fordham’s 30-yard touchdown run with 10:46 to play.
Mainland (5-4) got back in it with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Taron Keith to T.J. Lockley, who snatched the ball from a Bolles defender with 8:32 remaining.
The drive followed an interception by Mainland’s Lemondre Jordan.
The Bucs had two potential scoring drives stalled by penalties in the final minutes.
“We had a holding on one drive and a personal foul on the other which is something that you can’t do in those situations,” said Scott.
The play of the game came when Patrick Menk blocked a punt and Will Netting recovered the ball in the end zone, giving Bolles a 14-0 lead with 5:08 left in the second quarter.
“Obviously it was huge. We were struggling to move the ball at that point. Special teams can always swing the ball game,” noted Toblin.
Kade Frew ran for 90 yards while Fordham had two rushing scores for Bolles.
Keith threw for 224 yards with a score and ran for 52 more yards while Lockley had seven catches for 85 yards and a score for Mainland.
Ethan Gettman missed field goals of 51, 50, 42 yards but hit a 40-yarder for the Bucs.
Bolles earned a first-round bye and the top seed in Class 4A Region-1 for the playoffs. Mainland is the fourth seed in Class 6A Region 1.
“That’s a playoff-style team. That is who we need to play against. We hope it’s a tune-up for what we need to do in the playoffs,” said Toblin.
“Playing teams of this caliber with the talent and speed can prime us up for the playoffs,” said Wilson.
7 teams in playoffs
The teams are: New Smyrna Beach (Class 6A Region 1); Spruce Creek (8A-1); DeLand (8A-1); Atlantic (5A-3); Deltona Trinity Christian (2A-2) and Flagler Palm Coast (8A-1).
The teams were selected as at-large bids for the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) playoffs on Sunday.
The FHSAA released its final RPI rankings, which selects and seeds teams for the playoffs. In Class 8A5A four district champions and four at-large teams in each region make the playoffs.
Earning their place
The top six teams in Class 4A-1A from each region earn spots.
Mainland won the district 6A-4 championship and earned an automatic playoff spot. It’s the Buccaneers 26th straight year in the postseason.
“It’s a special thing to be a part of that for so many years,” Wilson said. “We’re proud to represent Mainland, our past, present and future. I’m proud.”
Atlantic and New Smyrna are both in the postseason for the first time since 2012.
Flagler Palm Coast is back in the playoff for the third straight year. Spruce Creek is in for the third time in four years. And DeLand is back in the playoffs for the second straight year.
“We’re where we want to be. We’re playing a district champ that pays very hard and that’s well coach. We got to play our best football,” said DeLand Coach Steve Allen.
The state championships for Classes 4A-8A will take place at Daytona Stadium. The Class 1A3A championships will be played at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee.
Playoff games this week
Pensacola Booker T. Washington (8-1) at Mainland (5-4), Daytona Stadium: The Buccaneers face a formidable Wildcats squad.
Spruce Creek (6-3) at St. John’s Bartram Trail (100): The Hawks are underdogs on the road against a talented Bears squad.
Atlantic (7-3) at New Port Ritchey River Ridge (8-2): The Sharks face a tough Royal Knights squad but match up well against them.
DeLand (7-2) at Orlando Timber Creek (9-1): The Bulldogs have a tough task at hand with the Wolves.
Flagler Palm Coast (8-2) at Apopka (8-1): The Bulldogs face the Blue Darters who knocked them out the previous two years.
New Smyrna Beach (73) at Pensacola Escambia (10-0): The Cudas face an uphill battle with the Gators.
Deltona Trinity Christian (3-7) at Maitland Orangewood Christian (6-4): A few weeks ago, the Rams beat the Eagles 39-21. Can the Eagles get revenge?
Prep Sports Rankings
1. DeLand (7-2)
2. Flagler Palm Coast (8-2)
3. Mainland (5-4)
4. Spruce Creek (6-3)
5. Atlantic (7-3)
6. New Smyrna Beach (7-3)
7. University (5-4)