Football Playoff Preview

Nease faces Spruce Creek in first round


The Nease Panthers look to extend what has been a memorable season to this point when they travel to take on Spruce Creek in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.

The Panthers enter the contest as the No. 7 seed in region 1, while Spruce Creek (9-1) is the No. 2 seed.

It appears that the Panthers (7-3) have found their mojo once again as they have scored 35 and 39 points the past two weeks and only allowed a total of 14 points, including coming off a shutout against Westside to end the regular season.

Offensively, the Panthers like to throw it around the field and test an opposing defense’s secondary. They average 28 points per game.

Wanting to challenge a defense is one thing but the Panthers actual have the playmakers to have success doing that on a consistent basis.

One of the focal points of the offense is Dom Henry, who has the speed and agility to not only create space from defenders on deep balls, but also make tacklers miss in the open field to gain the extra yards needed for first downs.

Henry has 1,114 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

Donavan Wilson has hauled in 403 yards and five touchdowns and gives quarterback Marcus Stokes another reliable target when surveying the field.

It is expected that Stokes will surpass 2,000 passing yards during the contest. He currently has 1,938 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air.

The Nease offensive line has done an excellent job all season, and although they spend a lot of time in pass protection, they have also opened some nice holes in the rushing game.

Spruce Creek’s defense presents a stiff test, having shutout four opponents during the season.

Defense has been a rock for the Panthers all season having only surrendered more than 30 points on one occasion.

The Hawks average 29 points per game.

As a result, these teams are very similar in the amount of points they score and give up and have produced their share of blowouts.

Something must give between the two teams, and an x-factor in the game could be Panthers’ duo of senior linebackers Zach Harmon and Ben Bogle, who have come up with timely big plays throughout the season.

Fellow seniors Creed McClafferty, Keveon Hodges and Kenneth Ponzetti have shown the ability to be ballhawks in the secondary as well.


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