South Dade cemented its playoff status and likely denied defending 8A state champion Southridge a chance at repeating as the District 16-8A champions with a 14-7 win over the Spartans Friday night at Harris Field.
The Buccaneers (7-1) forced a three-way tie with Southridge and Palmetto at the top of the district.
But unlike past years, under the new Florida High School Athletic Association’s playoff qualifying format the winner will be decided by who finishes the regular season with the highest points average.
Entering the week, Palmetto (41.71) had the highest among the three teams with South Dade (38.86) next and then Southridge (38.17). If the seeds hold, Palmetto would win the district title. However, the Bucs could vault Southridge and earn the fifth seed in the region. The Spartans would drop to the sixth or even possibly the seventh seed. Homestead holds the eighth seed, which would give District 16-8A four playoff-bound teams.
"This was a great team win and way to bounce back from the lose last week," South Dade defensive back D.J. Ivey said.
South Dade scored on its first play from scrimmage when Fralon Warren went deep to Frank Ladson for a 78 yard touchdown pass.
On the following kickoff, Southridge junior Xavier Johnson II suffered an apparent head injury. The medical staffs from both teams worked with him for nearly 15 minutes before he was taken off the field on a stretcher.
A helicopter landed on an adjacent field and air-lifted Johnson II to Jackson Memorial Hospital.
"The good news at this time is that he had movement and the student was conscious," Southridge Athletic Director Jorge Vital said.
Late in the second quarter, South Dade scored a touchdown when Devin Hardy recovered a fumble in the end zone. The Buccaneers led 14-0 at halftime.
Southridge scored on a 33-yard touchdown catch by Mark Pope late in the third quarter. Pope's score came following a successful fake punt run.
The Spartans (4-3) had a late fourth quarter drive into the red zone, by it ended with a tipped pass intercepted by Fred Climpson.
Ladson led South Dade with 3 receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Michael Cox led Southridge with 122 yards passing, a touchdown and 34 rushing yards, but threw three interceptions.