Bradenton Blitz Week 10 - Sports reporters Jason Dill and David Wilson dissect playoff scenarios
Two dominating district title-clinching performances, a successful road test to get back in the playoff hunt and ESPN Sportscenter's Top 10 list all contribute to this week's Numbers Game.
There's still work ahead for Palmetto and Southeast, who are looking to join Braden River, Manatee and Cardinal Mooney as the area's playoff participants.
So let's analyze the numbers that made Week 9 special, and prepare for this week's district finales:
Jaylin Austin's total yards to help Braden River cement itself as the top dog in Class 7A-District 11 over Palmetto, just a week after defeating Venice. The Pirates even finished off the district-clinching win over Palmetto with 21 points following star running back Raymond Thomas' injury. Thomas sprung Austin for a touchdown run late in the first quarter with a big block, but was injured on the play and spent a majority of the remaining time with crutches on the sidelines. He did, however, slowly ride the exercise bike on the sideline during the second half. Austin excelled in Thomas' place, racking up 79 rushing yards on 10 carries along with three catches for 68 yards.
Excluding the last offensive series that yielded one play before time expired, Palmetto's offense ran on first down in 77.77 percent of its possessions against Braden River. The Pirates were ready, limiting the Tigers to 35 rushing yards and just seven completed passes for 49 yards for the game. In the first half, Palmetto didn't convert once on third down, while losing 21 yards on two sacks and generating five yards on 1-for-4 passing. Braden River also pitched its third shutout this season. And speaking of shutouts . . .
Days between the last time Palmetto failed to
score any points prior to Friday's 35-0 blanking. The Tigers were forced into two three-and-outs in the first quarter and only picked up one first down in the first half. Manatee was the last program to shut out Palmetto, handing the Tigers a 62-0 setback in 2012 when the Canes were ranked No. 1 in the nation and Palmetto was ranked No. 1 in the state for Class 5A.
Now Palmetto has to defeat Venice for the first time since its 2011 Kickoff Classic for the Tigers to clinch a sixth successive trip to the playoffs.
Manatee quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni's quarterback rating (NCAA formula) in district play, which yielded five victories that added up to the Hurricanes' sixth straight district championship. Friday's district title-clincher saw Colagiovanni connect with Tarique Milton 10 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns. Colagiovanni also added a rushing touchdown as he was responsible for four of Manatee's five scores in a 37-7 rout of Riverview.
IMG Academy running back Tony Jones landed No. 5 on ESPN Sportscenter's Top 10 plays on Friday for his 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of the Ascenders' 28-20 victory over Paramus (N.J.) Catholic.
Jones took a handoff and started running toward the right side of the line before cutting back and bouncing it outside, issuing a stiff arm. He broke a total of four tackles en route to pay dirt.
The former St. Petersburg Catholic star is committed to Notre Dame and the touchdown gave IMG some breathing room as the Ascenders held a 14-13 lead prior to the score. The Ascenders also captured their third victory over top-tier New Jersey programs this season.
That's the last year a Manatee County high school football program played in a district tiebreaker. Southeast was involved, winning both quarters to earn a district title in the old Class 4A-District 9.
Fast forward to this season, and that scenario could play out again for the Seminoles. Following Friday's 21-14 road win at previously district unbeaten Wauchula Hardee, Southeast is tied for the district lead with the Wildcats and Englewood Lemon Bay. All three teams have one district loss. Southeast beat Hardee, but lost to Lemon Bay. The Manta Rays' district loss was to Hardee.
All three wrap up district play this week against the bottom half of the league. Southeast is at Sarasota Booker (3-4 overall, 1-3 district), Lemon Bay hosts Bayshore (1-7, 1-3) and Hardee hosts archrival Arcadia DeSoto (1-7, 1-3). If the tiebreaker occurs, Lemon Bay would earn the No. 1 seed and host. All three squads need to have the same result for that to be in play -- all win or all lose Friday.
The last time a district tiebreaker involved an area team was in 2011, when Cardinal Mooney fell to Frostproof. The Cougars are already in the postseason dance this season and play for a district title at Clearwater Central Catholic, the Associated Press' third-ranked team in Class 3A.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill and like his Facebook page at Jason Dill Bradenton Herald.