There were nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, and safety Trevon Sands, who doubles as Southwest’s starting running back, had to be tired.
But when Varela running back Tray Fance broke free down the right sideline on what turned out to be a 61-yard run, Sands did not hesitate.
“I never give up on a play,” said Sands, a sophomore.
Sands’ persistence helped Southwest defeat Varela 14-6 on Friday night at Tropical Stadium, a victory that gave the Eagles their first district title since 2008.
When the playoffs begin in two weeks, the Eagles (8-1, 4-0) will play Killian. Varela (3-5, 3-1), which earned the runner-up spot in District 15-8A, will play South Dade.
When Sands finally dragged Fance down from behind at the 31-yard line, Varela — which trailed 14-6 — still had a good shot at getting a touchdown and tying the score with a two-point conversion.
The Vipers drove to the Eagles’ 3, where they had first-and-goal. Varela then ran five plays but came up 1 yard short of the end zone.
Southwest took over on downs, but its offense went three-and-out. A short punt gave Varela the ball at the Southwest 35, but Sands came up with another big play, an interception.
“I read the play,” Sands said.
• Gulliver 26, Edison 22: Under coach Earl Sims, Gulliver has typically found a way to rise to the occasion in tough games at home. Friday afternoon was no different as the Raiders held on for a close victory to clinch the runner-up playoff berth in District 8-4A for the second season in a row.
Gulliver running back Bo Ellis led the Raiders (4-5, 3-1) with 244 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. Gulliver will play at Riviera Beach Inlet Grove in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.
“It’s a hard fought effort on both sides,” Sims said. “We had to learn these lessons this year. As long as you have life, you have to keep playing and that’s what our team does.”
Edison (3-4, 2-2) fell short of what would have been its first playoff appearance since 2005. Versatile running back/quarterback Franklin Labady led the Red Raiders with 15 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown.
But on the Red Raiders’ final drive, Labady was unable to rally Edison. After three incomplete passes, Labady ran it from his own 27-yard line. After avoiding a few tacklers, he was finally caught at Gulliver’s 34-yard line ending the game.
ANDRE C. FERNANDEZ
• Central 56, Belen 0: The Rockets ran all over the Wolverines (2-6, 0-4) to finish the season undefeated in District 16-6A.
Central (6-2, 4-0) racked up 302 yard rushing and six running touchdowns in the victory. Joseph Yearby had 103 yards and two rushing scores while carrying the ball only four times.
• Dade Christian 41, Archbishop Carroll 0: The Crusaders (9-0) remain perfect in the regular season for the third time in school history after beating host Archbishop Carroll (0-9).
Early in the first quarter, defensive back Terrence Alls (65 yards on three receptions) intercepted Bulldogs quarterback D’Andre Smith (52 passing yards) in the end zone and ran 35 yards to set up the Crusaders first scoring drive.
Alls had back-to-back receptions for 55 yards to get the Crusaders to the goal line, where teammate Ike Steadman (23 yards on five carries and one touchdown) scored the team’s first touchdown.