Class 8A state semifinal | Cypress Bay 33, Columbus 13

Cypress Bay starts ‘on fire’ and stays in control over Columbus to advance to state final


The Cypress Bay Lightning routed Miami Columbus, jumping ahead 26-0 and holding on to earn its first trip to the state final.

Fireworks lit up the sky at Cypress Bay High late Friday night.

But its football team only needed two plays to get its own show going.

Led by a pair of early long touchdowns by running back Matt Dayes and wide receiver/defensive back Alex Montgomery, and another stellar performance by its defense, the Lightning dominated visiting Miami Columbus 33-13 in a Class 8A state semifinal.

A decade after the Weston public school opened, Cypress Bay (12-2) secured its first trip to the state finals, and will play Apopka next Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

“For the players and the coaches this is great, and in a moment like this it makes it all worthwhile,” said Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo, who has now guided three different schools to state (the others are Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna and Miami Southridge). “It’s a long haul this season and we have to stay together. Now all the distractions come, and we have to let these kids now that the team that handles it the best usually wins the championship.”

The Lightning scored the game’s first 26 points in barely more than a quarter and held on behind a defense that had two timely interceptions, including one by Montgomery that he returned 34 yards to put Cypress Bay ahead 26-0 early in the second quarter.

The Lightning finished with 263 rushing yards as a team led by Matt Dayes’ 180 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.

Columbus (9-5), a team trying to advance to state for the first time since 1982, was eliminated in the state semifinals for the second consecutive season.

“Cypress Bay was on fire at the beginning and we didn’t match their intensity,” Columbus coach Chris Merritt said. “Their strength up front is their huge line, and that’s been our kryptonite all season.”

Montgomery refused to leave the field, even when Guandolo tried to pull him for a breather.

“I had to play every play because at this point it’s whatever it takes to win,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery helped set the tone early with some acrobatics.

He outleaped a defender and hauled in a pass from Jaranta Lewis near midfield and outran Columbus secondary to the end zone for an 87-yard touchdown that gave the Lightning a 14-0 lead.

Dayes, however, got things started and consistently powered Cypress Bay’s offense again. Dayes broke a 67-yard touchdown run on the game’s second play when ran to his right found an opening and swerved through Columbus’ secondary to the end zone.

Dayes also scored a 13-yard touchdown as part of Cypress Bay’s great start.

“When I got the ball on that first play, I didn’t think I could take it to the house at first, but I turned but there was no one there so I took it,” Dayes said. “I’m still shocked right now. This is a great feeling you can’t describe.”

Columbus finally scored midway through the second quarter when Lorenzo Woodley ran it in from 22 yards out. The Explorers gained more momentum before the half when Jesus Wilson blocked a field goal to keep the deficit at 26-7.

But Cypress Bay’s defense had an answer for any serious Columbus threats the entire game.

Led by linebacker Nico Marley, who had more than 10 solo tackles, the Lightning frustrated Columbus quarterback Tucker Beirne, limiting him to 17 of 35 passing for 169 yards and two interceptions.

After gaining possession in Columbus territory early in the second half, Lewis put the game further out of reach when he ran up the middle into a mass of Columbus defenders. Lewis did not stop and maintained his balance enough to reach the end zone for the touchdown.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

  • Roundup

    Two Cooper City athletes sign with colleges

    Cooper City pitcher and first baseman Johnny Haney signed a scholarship with the Point Park University (Pittsburgh) baseball team. The left-hander is 6-0 so far this season with 31 strikeouts, three complete games and 1.28 ERA. He is hitting .317 with a homerun, 13 RBI and 16 runs scored.

  • High Schools roundup

    Doctors Charter boys’ track relay teams qualifiy for states

    The Dade Christian boys’ track 4x100 relay team will head to the State Championship for its second year in a row. Abigael Neus, Sam Mompremier, Jeanmaxon Adrien, and Cameron Floyd. Darwin Abreu qualified fourth overall in the mile. The 4x400 relay team, Torrian Wallace, Jovyn Pierre, Andrew Dodds, and Jonathan Gill needed to finish fourth out of 16 teams and run under a 3:42 to qualify for states. Freshman Jonathan Gill lead the team to a time of 3:36, awarding them fourth place to also qualify them for states.

  • State Tennis Championship

    Ransom Everglades’ Allegra Hanlon galls short of state title

    Everything seemed in place for Allegra Hanlon to end her high-school career with one more tennis championship. Then the rains came.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category