Week 9 football preview


We are just two weeks away from a major matchup between the Ponte Vedra Sharks and Nease Panthers on the football field, but before then there is some business to take care of.

The Sharks travel to Clay County to face the Orange Park Raiders (3-4) on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. in a non-district showdown that will present the squad with a nice test prior to taking on the Panthers a week later.

The Raiders are a common opponent for both teams, with the Panthers already having racked up a 27-14 comeback victory over the Raiders on Sept. 22.

One of the positive things the Sharks have been able to do for much of their six-game winning streak is the ability to get ahead early and carry a lead into the halftime break.

This is something that they will strive to accomplish once again against the Raiders, as it is something that can take so much pressure off an offense and defense anytime they are given the opportunity to play from out front and in turn dictate the flow of the game.

The Panthers found success both on the ground and through the air against the Raiders, so look for the Sharks to do much of what they have been doing of late, which is a balanced attack that can hurt opponents in a variety of ways.

Cam Smith finished with 97 rushing yards in the game for the Panthers, which means another big day could be in the forecast for Sharks’ running back Brian Case, who has made hitting the century mark for yards on the ground seemingly a common goal from game to game.

The defense for the Sharks has reached a point in the season where they feel confident about any opponent they face, but especially against a Raiders offense that has been shut out on two occasions already this year. 

The Sharks will be looking for their seventh consecutive win this season, while the Raiders seemed to get back on track after a back-to-back loses with a 36-12 win over Ridgeview last Friday.

It will only be the third home contest of the season to date for the Raiders, who are 1-1 in their previous two games in front of their home fans.

For the Panthers, they have a bye this week prior to facing the Sharks.

The bye week comes at an ideal time for the Panthers, as it not only gives them extra time to prepare for the Sharks, but just as importantly, it gives them some needed time to for their players to get healthy in time for the showdown.

This is especially needed on the defense side of the ball, where they have had several key starters dealing with injuries in recent weeks.

With the mega matchup between the two on the horizon, every fan on both sides wants to see each team at their best and as close to full health as possible, because it is a game that truly deserves both squads being at their peak of performance and that means as many playmakers in their arsenals as possible when they take the field on Oct. 27.

Ponte Vedra Sharks, Nease Panthers, High school football