With just a month left in the regular season, high school football programs are inching closer to must-win games to earn playoff berths.
And while those decisive games for some Manatee County programs aren’t for a couple more weeks, the separation has begun across various districts.
Braden River, Manatee, Palmetto and Southeast took care of business last Friday. Cardinal Mooney, the lone private school competing in a district, also won in its four-team league.
We’ll zero in on some of those in this week’s Numbers Game, while crunching digits on this week’s slate.
So let’s dive in:
Yards per carry for Manatee sophomore running back Keyon Fordham in the last two games. Getting the start two games ago while Josh Booker nursed an ankle injury, Fordham exploded for 125 yards on nine carries in a blowout victory over Tampa Alonso. He did even better this past Friday as the Hurricanes took control of Class 8A-District 6 with a 57-7 rout over Lutz Steinbrenner. Fordham galloped 172 yards on just ... SIX carries! Manatee’s offense also scored its first seven touchdowns in an average of 1 minute, 8 seconds. That quick-striking offense scored four times in less than a minute.
Palmetto junior Jason Spicer Jr.’s quarterback rating, using the NCAA formula, from Friday’s 23-0 victory over Lakewood Ranch. Spicer was 7-for-8 with 81 yards and a touchdown pass to lead the Tigers to a 5-1 start and 2-0 in Class 7A-District 11. The Tigers are one of three public schools that are off this week, before resuming with North Port and battling state-ranked Braden River and Venice for one of the two district playoff berths toward the end of October.
Amount of rushing yards Braden River’s dynamic duo of Raymond Thomas and Deshaun Fenwick produced in last Friday’s 38-0 victory over North Port. The pair tallied three touchdowns, which all came in the second half, to keep the Pirates on a collision course with fellow state-ranked Venice in two weeks. The two sides played twice last year, with Braden River winning both times en route to a Class 7A state semifinal. Now they’re both off this week to prepare for the big game at Venice on Oct. 14.
Sacks the Southeast defense tallied in a key Class 5A-District 11 road victory over Arcadia DeSoto last Friday amid two different weather delays. Dequan Williams led a five-player contingent with three sacks. Others that got into the act during the 35-6 victory were Jonathan Locke (1.5), Darrien Grant (one), Chauncey Green (one) and Zach Hughes (0.5). Now the Seminoles are inching closer to a return trip to the playoffs with two of their final three district games coming against Englewood Lemon Bay and Sarasota Booker, who are a combined 1-9 this year.
Percentage of possessions for Saint Stephen’s that began in St. Petersburg Keswick Christian territory last Friday. Sydney Brown returned punts for 81 yards to continue giving the Falcons ideal field position, which they used in racking up 336 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in a 48-0 victory. Demetrius Davis had four of the scores for 173 yards. The Falcons fly into this week’s Headmasters Cup game with Out-of-Door Academy as winners of the last three meetings between the teams. The Thunder won the previous six, before Saint Stephen’s current streak.
Tackles for IMG Academy’s Taron Vincent this season. And he’s a defensive end, making that figure look even more gaudy. That’s an average of 9.6 tackles per game for the son of former NFL cornerback Troy Vincent. Taron also has six tackles for a loss and three sacks through five games.