No matter what the format looks like for deciding which teams make the postseason, in high school football winning the district has and still is the easiest way to secure a spot in the playoffs.
The journey to achieving that begins this Friday for the Sharks, as they hit the road and take on Flagler Palm Coast in a district showdown at 7 p.m.
Despite having lost a couple of games this season, it has not been because of the Bulldogs’ offense, which is averaging 24 points per game.
However, the Sharks defense has been up to every test this season so far and how they fare against the Bulldog offense may wind up being the key to the game.
Not only do the Sharks have speed on the defensive side of the ball, but they are also very physical and are good tacklers, as exhibited by the performances of Talan Babin, who led the team with 10 tackles against Menendez, including eight of the solo variety and two for a loss.
Senior cornerback Joe Mahoney was not far behind with seven tackles on the night as he showed his versatility to be a true all-around defensive back that can lock down a receiver, while also not being shy about sticking his nose in and helping against the running game.
If the defense can hold the Bulldogs to less than 20 points, the Sharks’ coaching staff has to be confident that being enough to win the contest, especially with the way the Sharks’ offense has been clicking of late.
The Sharks have now proven this year that they can win games no matter how the game script plays out or what the opponent wants to force them to do.
That was never more evident than the last two weeks, when Ben Burk threw for five touchdowns against Middleburg and then one week later it was Brian Case doing his thing with four rushing touchdowns as the Sharks leaned on him and he was up to the challenge.
Having shown the ability to win regardless of the situation should bode well for the Sharks as they enter their district slate of games.
Panthers getting healthy at perfect time
The Nease Panthers seemed to pick up multiple victories against Orange Park last Friday night, as not only did they win on the scoreboard, 27-14, but they also welcomed back a pair of senior leaders and playmakers in running back Cam Smith and center Demarco Blackmon.
Both had yet to play full games this season and having them back brought an entirely different vibe to the game both on the sidelines and on the field.
Blackmon is especially one of the more vocal leaders on the team and he backs that up with stellar play. It appeared that having him and Smith back in the lineup was something the team rallied behind and it helped spark the comeback win.
Now that the Panthers are getting healthy, they are starting to shape into the team that the coaching staff had high hopes for during the offseason and heading into the year.
And what better time to be finding themselves than with just a couple of more games before they wrap up the season with district play.
The Panthers go on the road to face the Sandalwood Saints at 6:30 p.m.
The Saints are still looking for their first win with a record of 0-4 and have yet to score more than seven points in a game this season.
That is a good trend for the Panthers who continue to come into their own as a unit and force their share of turnovers. They look to build on shutting out Orange Park in the second half last week.
Finally, another bright spot heading into week six for the Panthers was the play of Bryce Frick, who looked extremely poised and in command of the offense for someone making his first start.
The next step for Frick and the Panthers is to pile up success and keep adding to it from week to week.