Play­off bat­tles ahead for seven

Chal­lenges get tougher this week for the sur­viv­ing teams on road to state fi­nals.

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS - By Jodie Wag­ner Palm Beach Post Staff Writer jwag­ner@pbpost.com Twit­ter: @JRWag­ner5

Thir­teen Palm Beach County teams be­gan post­sea­son play last week un­der the FHSAA’s new play­off for­mat, and seven have moved on af­ter post­ing first-round wins.

Park Vista, At­lantic, Dwyer and Palm Beach Cen­tral won their re­gional quar­ter­fi­nals to ad­vance to Fri­day’s re­gional semi­fi­nals round. Benjamin, Pa­ho­kee and Oxbridge Academy won their re­gional semi­fi­nals and will play for re­gional cham­pi­onships.

Davie-West­ern (9-2) at Palm Beach Cen­tral (8-2): The Bron­cos and their dom­i­nant de­fense face a Wild­cats team that is com­ing off an up­set of Deer­field Beach — the state’s top-ranked Class 8A team — in last week’s re­gional quar­ter­fi­nals. Cen­tral has posted shutouts in its last four games. Com­bined with an 8-3 win over Semi­nole Ridge Oct. 13, the Bron­cos have al­lowed an av­er­age of 0.6 points in their last five games. Last Fri­day in their re­match against the Hawks, Palm Beach Cen­tral forced four turnovers in a 32-0 shutout. But of­fense played as big a role as de­fense in the win, with Nick Atkins throw­ing four TD passes and run­ning for another score. West­ern has mo­men­tum af­ter its up­set win, but the Bron­cos do too, and they have the home field.

Park Vista (8-2) at At­lantic (9-1): The Co­bras, com­ing off a huge up­set of heav­ily fa­vored Mi­ra­mar in the re­gional quar­ter­fi­nals, get a se­cond crack at the Ea­gles af­ter drop­ping a 10-3 de­ci­sion on Sept. 22. That game ul­ti­mately de­cided the Dis­trict 10-8A cham­pi­onship for At­lantic, which has won nine straight af­ter drop­ping its sea­son opener to Palm Beach Cen­tral. The Ea­gles de­feated Plan­ta­tion 29-14 last week in the re­gional quar­ter­fi­nals, mark­ing their 10th straight game al­low­ing 14 points or less. De­fense has been a strength for At­lantic, and the Ea­gles will rely on that unit in their re­match against Park Vista, which has a pair of Di­vi­sion I com­mits on of­fense in ath­lete John Smith and wide re­ceiver Ato­rian Perry. The pair con­nected on two touch­downs in the win over Mi­ra­mar.

Do­ral Academy (9-2) at Dwyer (8-2): For the first time in three sea­sons, the Pan­thers face a se­cond-round post­sea­son op­po­nent that is not Fort Laud­erdale-St. Thomas Aquinas (though that could come next week if both win their games Fri­day). Dwyer has been in­con­sis­tent this sea­son but posted a con­vinc­ing win last week against Hialeah Gar­dens-Mater Academy in the re­gional quar­ter­fi­nals. The Pan­thers rushed for 274 yards in that con­test, with Bobby Armes con­tribut­ing 151, plus three scores. Dwyer’s de­fense played well against Mater Academy. The unit will need another big per­for­mance against Do­ral Academy, the re­gion’s third seed (Dwyer is No. 2), and an of­fense that has av­er­aged 44 points dur­ing its past three games.

Mel­bourne Cen­tral Catholic (8-3) at Oxbridge Academy (8-1): The streak­ing Thun­derWolves didn’t have the best first quar­ter against King’s Academy in their Class 3A re­gional semi­fi­nal, but Oxbridge kicked things into gear over the fi­nal three quar­ters. Like they have all sea­son, the Thun­derWolves were dom­i­nant on de­fense against the Lions, al­low­ing 54 to­tal yards. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see how Mel­bourne Cen­tral Catholic, coached by former Amer­i­can Her­itage coach Stacy Sizemore, matches up. The Hus­tlers, ranked fourth in the Class 3A state poll — Oxbridge is No. 2 — are av­er­ag­ing 50.4 points in their last five games, and scored 55 Fri­day against state-ranked Or­lando-First Academy in their re­gional semi­fi­nal.

Benjamin (8-2) at Hol­ly­wood-Cham­i­nade Madonna (8-2): The Lions al­ready beat one Palm Beach County team in the post­sea­son, shut­ting out Amer­i­can Her­itage last week in a Class 3A re­gional semi­fi­nal. State-ranked Cham­i­nade gets a se­cond area team this week in the Bucs, who are com­ing off a pair of state­ment wins. Benjamin snapped King’s Academy’s 20-game win­ning streak to close the reg­u­lar sea­son, then got four touch­down passes from Jor­dan Travis in a rout of Homestead-Ever­glades Prep Academy. But the Bucs face a big chal­lenge on the road in Cham­i­nade Madonna, which al­ready counts wins against pow­er­houses Mi­ra­mar and Fort Laud­erdale-Univer­sity this sea­son, and fea­tures Auburn com­mit Shaun Shiv­ers at run­ning back.

Frost­proof (7-4) at Pa­ho­kee (7-2): The Blue Devils kicked off the post­sea­son with a con­vinc­ing win over Wil­lis­ton, rush­ing for nearly 400 yards de­spite the ab­sence of in­jured run­ning back Ja­teri Washington. They’ll face a Bull­dogs team that knocked off un­beaten Wild­wood in their re­gional semi­fi­nal con­test. Pa­ho­kee’s de­fense came up big against Wil­lis­ton, shut­ting down highly touted run­ning back Ger­ard Wil­liams III. But the unit could be tested against Frost­proof, which scored 59 points against Wild­wood last week and is av­er­ag­ing 44 points over its last three games. A win for Pa­ho­kee would lift the Blue Devils into the Class 1A state semi­fi­nals for the se­cond straight year.

BRUCE R. BEN­NETT / THE PALM BEACH POST

Park Vista’s John Smith runs against At­lantic’s de­fense dur­ing the Ea­gles’ 10-3 win on Sept. 22. The teams have a re­match this week.

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