In 2009, Miramar moved to a new district, all but ending the Patriots’ rivalry with Cypress Bay.
Last year, the Patriots returned to District 12-8A and rekindled their rivalry with the Lightning (3-1). Miramar (2-2) was responsible for two of Cypress Bay’s four losses in 2011, including a win in the Class 8A regional semifinals.
The Lightning is looking to avenge the losses when the teams meet at Miramar on Friday night.
“It’s a big-time rivalry game,” Miramar coach Damon Cogdell said. “We’re two of the top teams in the conference year in and year out. The two years we were out of this district, it was weird not to be able to play Cypress Bay, but we’re back in it now.”
Although it is still somewhat early in the season, players on both teams said that they see the game as a playoff-deciding contest.
“This game is huge,” star Cypress Bay running back Matt Dayes said. “This is definitely the most important game of the year for us. If we win, we’re in. If we lose, it might be second place, going away for the playoffs.”
Said Patriots rusher Alex Lee: “This game is going to decide if we can compete for the state championship again. I hope the Lightning come to play on Friday.”
With both teams having admitted to having rocky starts, a win Friday will go a long way to improving their title chances. For each of the past four years it has been either Miramar or Cypress Bay that has gone the furthest among Broward schools in the state’s highest classification.
Last year Miramar was a powerhouse. The Patriots went 9-0 in the regular season and won the next four playoff games before falling to Tampa Plant in the title game.
Having since graduated many of their star players from last year’s team, Cogdell said the team has had to deal with inexperience.
“We’ve got to be more disciplined,” Cogdell said. “Cypress Bay is a well-coached team. We can’t turn the ball over. We can’t get penalties.”
Leading the way for the Patriots will be Lee, whose nickname is “Lightning,” much to the amusement of Cogdell.
“We’re going to see who the real ‘Lightning’ is on Friday,” Lee said.
Lee, a senior, is coming off of a 91-yard performance in the Patriots’ 48-3 rout of West Broward.
In other games, though, Lee and the offense have struggled and have put up just six and five points in their losses to Manatee and Northeast, respectively.
“Our defense is playing really well right now,” quarterback Nick Jeanty said. “As an offense, we have to actually finish the game as a team.”
Cypress Bay, meanwhile, is on a two-game win streak, but coach Mark Guandolo said his team deserves a “C+” and was not satisfied with the Lightning’s slow start in last week’s 28-10 win over Flanagan.
“We have to fix the mental mistakes,” Guandolo said. “We just weren’t ready to come out and play [against Flanagan]. We’ve got to be mentally prepared.”
The Lightning’s most dangerous weapon against Miramar will be Dayes, a senior and N.C. State commitment who is averaging 95 yards a game on the ground.
“He’s been running hard, hitting the holes, doing what we ask of him,” Guandolo said. “He’s someone we expect big things from.”
Dayes said he and his teammates had long ago put last year’s 20-0 and 23-7 losses to Miramar behind them.
“It’s a new year,” he said. “Last year doesn’t matter.”