Apopka eyes another playoff run
Apopka has overcome inexperience and self-inflicted setbacks to extend its football season into the Class 8A region playoffs.
The Blue Darters (8-3) rushed for a season-best 439 yards in a 54-21 win at higher-seeded Seminole in the first round and face another road challenge in Friday night’s region semifinal against unbeaten Winter Park (11-0), which is ranked No. 2 in the Sentinel Super 16 and seeded No. 1 in the region.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Showalter Field.
No. 4 Apopka, which has rushed for at least 400 yards four times in 2017, hasn’t lost this many times in a single season since finishing 11-4 and winning its second state title in three years in 2014.
Turnovers against rivals Wekiva and West Orange and a poor defensive effort on the road against Lakeland resulted in one-possession losses that could’ve gone either way.
“It’s taught us to remain humble,” Apopka sophomore
said. “We’ve just had to keep our heads high through the big games we’ve won and the big games we’ve lost.
“We know that the losses that we had were not defeats, they were just losses, because nobody can beat Apopka but Apopka.”
Davis-Hamilton is one of several underclassman in the backfield responsible for helping the Blue Darters average 333 rushing yards per game. Protecting the football will be key this week for a team that relies on a junior, three sophomores and a freshman at the skill positions.
Apopka has turned the ball over 18 times this season, including 12 via fumble, while the Winter Park defense has 21 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries.
The opposite semifinal in Region 1 matches sixth seed Boone (9-2) against the No. 2 seed, Wekiva (10-1), which is ranked third in the Super 16 behind Kissimmee Osceola (10-0) and Winter Park.
If Winter Park beats the Blue Darters the Wildcats would be home again next week against the Boone-Wekiva winner.
Osceola, the top seed in 8A, Region 2 is home on Friday against Dr. Phillips (9-2), which is seeded fourth in the region.
Oak Ridge, a clear favorite to make a run at the Class 9A boys basketball state championship that Kissimmee Osceola wants to defend, is likely to open its season without at least one or two of the big names on its roster. But the Pioneers, already deep, became even more talented when 6-foot-4 junior dunk artist returned to the school several weeks ago after spending most of the semester at Villages.
“This is family and I’m back home,” he said after a Monday practice. “There are more people I’m comfortable with here.”
Glover, a gifted scorer, averaged 9.9 points per game as a sophomore — second on the team behind All-Central Florida guard who transferred to Montverde Academy for his senior season.
Oak Ridge senior (6-6), who signed with Texas A&M on Tuesday, is sidelined with a fracture in his right hand suffered during a fall league game. He hopes to be back early in December. The status of five-star prospect
a 6-7 senior power forward who enrolled this summer, is uncertain. Williams was arrested last month on felony sexual battery and false imprisonment charges. He pleaded not guilty on Oct. 28. The case remains active.
Oak Ridge will be at home for preseason games on Monday vs. Downey Christian and on Tuesday vs. Victory Academy, an Orlando independent program.
Orlando Christian Prep had just about everything except a true center when it won its sixth state basketball in a decade last season.
Check that off the list with the addition of a 6-foot-10 junior from the Bahamas.
Jones is another college prospect for a loaded lineup. More importantly, his length frees junior rim protector
(6-7) to roam outside the paint for a team that also has physical forward
With the boys basketball regular season starting a week later this year — after Thanksgiving — the FHSAA allowed schools some flexibility in scheduling preseason games. Many are playing those Tip-Off Classic exhibitions this week to free up some holiday time next week.
“I always felt bad for our players because they never really had a Thanksgiving break,” Orlando Christian Prep coach said Monday. “I’d like to see them move it back one more week, but this is a good thing.”
The Warriors, who returned eight players from a 3A state championship season, are one of six teams tuning up in a jamboree at Hagerty on Thursday and Friday. All the teams will play halves against two different opponents each day, starting at 4:30 p.m., with Master’s Academy, The First Academy, Oviedo, Orlando University and the host Huskies also participating.
Wekiva hosts games tonight. Timber Creek and Ocoee have doubleheaders Thursday
Wekiva holds its second night of Tip-Off Classic play tonight.
Timber Creek hosted preseason games on Tuesday and has another doubleheader on Thursday night.
Ocoee is hosting preseason play on Thursday and Monday nights, with Central Florida Christian Academy, Winter Park and Lakeland Kathleen joining the Knights.
Others will play preseason games next week.
Windermere Prep, with 7-foot junior joining a roster with returning veterans and
hosts Tip-Off games Monday and Tuesday.
Lewis, a dynamic point guard, might not make a preseason appearance since he will play football in Saturday’s Sunshine State Athletic Conference title game.
Orangewood also hosts a Tip-Off event Monday and Tuesday, with Lake Highland Prep and Bishop Moore in that field; as does Dr. Phillips.
The boys basketball regular season opens Nov. 27. highlytouted