High School Sports

South Florida football powerhouses earn chances for redemption in state finals

The first two tickets to Orlando have been punched by South Florida teams.

And it is two teams that weren’t happy with the way things ended the last time they played in the state finals.

Chaminade-Madonna and Champagnat Catholic each secured a return trip to Camping World Stadium next month with impressive road wins on Friday night.

Chaminade overwhelmed Clearwater Central Catholic from the outset on its way to a 49-3 victory in the Class 3A state semifinals.

And Champagnat forced host Cambridge Christian into several mistakes in a 38-0 win in a Class 2A semifinal.

Champagnat (8-2) will face Jacksonville University Christian at 10 a.m. on Dec. 8 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando in a rematch of last year’s 2A final that the Lions lost 24-8. Champagnat won its lone state title in 2013.

Johnquai Lewis returned an interception and a punt for touchdowns.

Quarterback Desjaun Kearse threw three touchdown passes. Two of those went to Leon McClain, who also made a great catch on a two-point conversion. Kearse also connected on a touchdown to Jahani Wright.

Jesus Machado had four sacks while Donovan Georges, Donald Georges and Todgrick Walker each had one. Donald Georges also recovered a fumble forced by Noah Pierre.

Chaminade-Madonna lost in last year’s state final to Jacksonville Trinity Christian. The Lions will take on West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy, a team they beat last year in the regional final round. Chaminade’s game is scheduled for a 10 a.m. start on Dec. 9.

Chaminade-Madonna is chasing its third state title. The Lions won championships in 2003 and 2005.

Quarterback Daelen Menard threw three touchdown passes and Shaun Shivers ran for two touchdowns as Chaminade-Madonna controlled the game from start to finish. Menard hooked up with Alabama commit Xavier Williams for two touchdown passes and found Marvin Alexander, a Kentucky commitment, for a 51-yard score.

Shivers, an Auburn commit, broke touchdown runs of 40 and 76 yards.

▪ Region 4-6A final - Northwestern 23, Carol City 15: The last time Northwestern was one of the last four teams standing in the playoffs Teddy Bridgewater was its quarterback.

On Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium, Bridgewater played the role of mentor to the Bulls’ latest quarterback star.

Senior Chatarius "Tutu" Atwell delivered a performance that stood out among the many he’s had for the Bulls over the past four years as he ran for a touchdown and threw two more to give Northwestern enough of a cushion to deny Carol City a chance at back-to-back state titles.

For the second week in a row, the Bulls (10-2) nearly let a three-score lead slip away as Carol City (8-4) scored a pair of second-half touchdowns to cut a 20-point lead down to eight early in the fourth quarter.

Once again, Northwestern’s defense made the key stops needed to win.

Last week, Northwestern led Central 24-0 before the Rockets scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter but ultimately fell short.

Northwestern will host Naples next Friday in a Class 6A state semifinal at 7:30 p.m. at Traz. The Bulls will try to make it to state for the first time since 2008 when Bridgewater, now a quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, led them to a state runner-up finish.

"Teddy was right there by my side every play," Atwell said. "He helped me make tough decisions and helped me with the calls."

Atwell finished with 180 yards passing and 86 rushing.

▪ Region 4-7A final – St. Thomas Aquinas 48, Doral Academy 6:

It was the 18th consecutive playoff victory for St. Thomas over the past four seasons.

The Raiders (11-2) will travel to play Venice (12-1) in a state semifinal game next Friday. St. Thomas is one victory shy of playing for its fourth consecutive state championship. Aquinas defeated Venice in last year’s state semi 48-6.

“Our focus this week was to play a complete game in all three phases of the game,” St. Thomas Aquinas coach Roger Harriott said.

Aquinas improved to 14-4 all-time in playoff games against Miami-Dade. Over the past four years the Raiders have outscored their opponents south of the border 215-20.

The Raiders also improved to 20-4 all-time in the third round of the playoffs.


▪ Class 4A state semifinal – Cocoa 49, NSU University School 14: It wasn’t the emotional speech Daniel Luque wanted to give Friday night.

The coach who brought the magic back this season to a University School program that had fallen on hard times was hoping his Sharks had one more big effort left in them.

But traveling three hours north to take on a defending state champion that had outscored its first two opponents in the postseason by a combined 126-15 proved too difficult.

And so a choked up Luque thanked his players and said goodbye to his seniors after the lopsided loss at Cocoa.

For the Sharks (10-2), it was a tough end to an otherwise breakthrough year that saw them return to prominence after the program went through a major transition following a state title in 2012.

“Give credit to Cocoa man, those guys came right out and took it to us tonight and showed why they’re defending state champions,” said Luque who took over a program in 2015 that was coming off a 2-8 season. “They came off the ball right away and in games like this you need to try and come out and jump on top early and make a quick statement and it was just the opposite as we fell behind early instead.”


▪ Region 3-8A final – Delray Atlantic 35, Western 22: Harrison Story was intercepted five times, and Western fell victim to Atlantic’s vaunted defense.

The best season in Western history ended at 10-3. The Wildcats, who were 0-6 in postseason games before this year, had upset Deerfield Beach in the first round and Palm Beach Central in the second round.

The host Eagles (11-1) have won 11 in a row and will host Miami High next Friday in a Class 8A state semifinal. Atlantic gave up more than 14 points for the first time all season, but that was only after they took a 35-6 lead.

"Their defense played extremely well, and we made far too many mistakes against an excellent football team," Western coach Adam Ratkevich said. "Atlantic has a hell of a pass rush and [Story] was under pressure, and they made plays when they needed to."

Story, a senior, completed 17 of 31 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran 13 times for 73 yards.



▪ Belen Jesuit 1, Archbishop McCarthy 0: Sebastian Restrepo lone goal.


▪ Lourdes 57, Coral Springs 40: Julia Vazquez 17 points, 7 steals, 5 rebounds; Elizabeth Codispoti 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists; Maddison Porras 14 points, 2 assists, 2 steals.