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Sampson’s crusade — deliver a state title

 

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IF YOU GO

What: The 50th annual FHSAA state football finals.

When: Friday through Saturday.

Where: The Citrus Bowl, 1610 W. Church Street, Orlando.

Admission: $12 per session ($17 reserved seating).

TV: CSS; ESPN3.

Defending state champions – Class 8A: Tampa Plant; 7A: Bradenton Manatee; 6A: Seffner Armwood; 5A: Miami Norland; 4A: Jacksonville Bolles; 3A: American Heritage-Delray; 2A: Tallahassee North Florida Christian; 1A: Monticello Jefferson County.

Friday’s schedule – Class 2A: Miami Dade Christian (12-0) vs. Jacksonville University Christian (12-1), 1; Class 1A: Trenton (13-0) vs. Northview (10-3), 7.

Saturday’s schedule – Class 3A: Fort Lauderdale University School (11-0) vs. Madison County (12-1), 1; Class 4A: Miami Booker T. Washington (12-1) vs. Jacksonville Bolles (12-1), 7.

BREAKDOWN - Class 2A final (Dade Christian vs. University Christian)

Coaches – DC: Mike Sonneborn (9th year, 79-21); UC: David Penland III (2nd year, 19-5).

State playoff history – DC: 8-13 (First state appearance); UC: 31-17 (Eighth state appearance, but first since 1994; won six titles).

Road to state – DC: d. Delray Beach Village Academy 39-16; Belle Glade Glades Day 20-14; Naples First Baptist 27-13; UC: d. Tallahassee FAMU 59-6; Tallahassee North Florida Christian 44-31; South Daytona Warner Christian 26-21.

Probable offensive starters – DC: TE Aaron Batten (6-3, 225, Sr.); LT Kelvin Acosta (5-10, 210, Sr.); LG Alex Perera (6-0, 200, Jr.); C Danny Nunez (6-3, 285, Sr.); RG Jayvon Batten (6-1, 290, Jr.); RT Dave Alarcon (6-3, 280, Sr.); WR Jeremy Miller (5-8, 165, Sr.); QB Gary Sampson (6-0, 200, Sr.); HB Marial Steadman (5-8, 150, Sr.); FB Andrew Florvil (5-10, 215, Sr.); WR Terrance Alls (6-1, 175, Sr.); K Ivan Arenas (5-8, 155, Fr.); UC: TE Marquis Haynes (6-3, 230, Sr.); LT Josh Allen (6-3, 295, Jr.); LG Robert Parland (6-0, 230, Sr.); C Josh Nichols (6-2, 285, Jr.); RG Deric Watson (6-1, 260, Sr.); RT Alex Bell (6-1, 260, Sr.); WB Chase Moody (5-10, 185, Sr.); QB Tim Betros (5-10, 200, Sr.); HB Hussein Howe (5-10, 175, Fr.); FB Jermiah Hamlin (6-0, 215, Sr.); WR Jake Stoshak (6-1, 195, Jr.); K Zak Kinsman (5-9, 145, Sr.).

Probable defensive starters – DC: LE Aaron Batten (6-3, 225, Sr.); ST Jayvon Batten (6-1, 290, Jr.); NT Danny Nunez (6-3, 285, Sr.); RE Kelvin Acosta (5-10, 210, Sr.); SS Gary Sampson (6-0, 200, Sr.); SLB Mike Perera (5-11, 185, So.); MLB Victor Young (5-11, 185, Jr.); WLB Vince Young (6-1, 210, Sr.); DB Terrance Alls (6-1, 175, Sr.); DB Adrian Sosa (5-11, 185, Sr.); S Kenny Lewis (5-9, 175, Jr.); P Terrance Alls (6-1, 175, Sr.); UC: LE Marquis Haynes (6-3, 230, Sr.); LT Anderson Hall (6-2, 225, Sr.); RT Jamal Fiffer (6-0, 270, Jr.); RE Robert Parland (6-0, 230, Sr.); LB Drake Warren (6-0, 210, Sr.); LB Tamarius Bowes (6-1, 240, Jr.); LB Chase Moody (5-10, 185, Sr.); SS Hussein Howe (5-10, 175, Fr.); DB Stone Lakey (5-8, 170, Jr.); DB Jake Stoshak (6-1, 195, Jr.); S Tim Betros (5-10, 200, Sr.); P Tim Betros (5-10, 200, Sr.).


Special to The Miami Herald

When Gary Sampson arrived at Dade Christian as a freshman, he had his heart set on being the Crusaders’ starting quarterback.

He soon found out, however, that the job belonged to Bilal Marshall, who went on to become a three-year starter and is currently a freshman on the Purdue University team.

“I wanted to battle,” Sampson said.

But, when it became apparent he wasn’t going to beat out Marshall, Sampson settled in at safety, where the 6-0, 195-pound senior is a fourth-year starter.

This season, Sampson added starting quarterback to his duties, and, at 1 p.m. Friday, he hopes to deliver the first state title in any boys’ sport in the 51-year history of Dade Christian.

The Crusaders (12-0) will compete for the Class 2A title against Jacksonville University Christian (12-1) at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

“Gary has exceeded expectations,” Crusaders coach Mike Sonneborn said. “From Game 1 to Game 12, his decision-making has improved so much. He threw six interceptions in the first three games and just four in the past nine.”

Sampson was flawless in his most recent game, completing all six of his passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in a 27-13 win over Naples First Baptist. He also ran for 137 yards and a touchdown.

For the season, Sampson needs 83 yards passing to get 1,000, a milestone he has already eclipsed as a runner.

Sampson has committed to play safety at Liberty University, a Christian school in Lynchburg, Va. The Flames, coached by former Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill, have petitioned to become a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I) program.

It seems like a good fit, but Sampson’s destination and position might have been different if not for Marshall.

“If he has this film as a junior, he is probably a three-star recruit and getting ACC and Big 12 [scholarship offers] as a quarterback,” Sonneborn said.

Sampson said he and Marshall, who is redshirting this season, are good friends and text message each other often.

Their styles are different, Sonneborn said. Marshall is faster and likes to run on the perimeter. He is also more of a finesse passer.

Sampson’s favorite target is senior Terrence Alls, a Duke recruit who leads the team in receptions (28), yards (491) and touchdown catches (3).

It was Alls who caught a 60-yard TD pass to start the second half against First Baptist, breaking open a close game. The sequence started when Sampson saw First Baptist had dropped one of its two safeties into the box to protect against the run.

“Terrence is one of the fastest guys I’ve ever seen,” Sampson said. “I was excited because I knew right away where I was going with the ball.”

Sampson is even more excited about the chance to make school history Friday.

The Crusaders had never before reached a state final, and, even with Marshall excelling at quarterback the past three years, the team failed to get past the regional quarterfinals.

“The whole school has supported our team this year,” Sampson said of Dade Christian.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Behind Joseph Lopez’s double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds, the South Miami boys’ basketball team pulled off a convincing 62-42 victory over Ransom Everglades in the quarterfinal of the A-Rod Basketball Classic Thursday at Columbus.

The Cobras (6-2) have now won four straight since arriving home after going 2-2 in a tournament in Chicago.

DAVID FURONES

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