As a coach who has seen a lot of seven-time state champion St. Thomas Aquinas over the years, Plantation's Steve Davis knows it's not easy to knock off the Raiders in the playoffs — much less at their field.
Since losing to Miami Edison in the second round in 2003, the Raiders have won 24 consecutive home playoffs games including a 38-7 rout of the Colonels at this same time last November.
But that long streak — or the fact the Raiders (9-2) beat Plantation 16-6 three weeks ago — is not putting much fear into the Colonels (8-2) heading into Friday night's playoff rematch.
“It comes down to this: when the play is there you got to make them. That's how you beat a good team like that,” said Davis, whose program has lost six consecutive games to Aquinas — many of them close — dating back to Plantation's last win in the series, the 2003 season opener.
“We watched the Deerfield game [Aquinas lost in the regular season finale]. Deerfield just made plays. [Brandon] Powell had a couple good runs. They had an interception returned for a touchdown. Our problem with them is we've had the opportunity to make plays, but just didn't do it.”
Davis can point to a few examples in the last two seasons alone. Last year in the regular season, the Colonels had a 20-17 lead entering the fourth quarter, turned it over late and lost. Earlier this month, the Colonels had a 6-3 halftime lead and turned the ball over four times in the second half.
“It was 10-6 and we had the ball marching down the field to score and our center snapped the ball over [quarterback] Chris Lammons’ head. That was our chance right there. They recovered it. We stopped them, but Chris got hurt and we had to put our backup quarterback in.”
Last week Lammons, a Florida commitment, sat out with a hip pointer in Plantation's first round win over Hialeah American. But he has been cleared to return this week along with tight end Ravian Pierce (Arkansas commitment).
“Except for the playoff game last year they've been hard fought games that come down to the last quarter,” Lammons aid. “They've fought through every time. We got to capitalize and stop making those mistakes, those mental mistakes.”
Defensive end Charles Williams, who has an offer from Bucknell, said he expects another “dirty battle in the trenches” between the district rivals. He said Plantation's defense has worked on the defending the crossing patterns that Aquinas has used to some success against the Colonels late in their last meeting. He expects better results this time.
“We're going to win this one,” Williams said. “Defensively, we're going to have a lot of momentum, be real hyped. Let's just say we're really looking forward to it.”