High School Sports

Miami Central football team prepares for another business trip in the playoffs

Miami Central running back Kywan Smith is chased by Boyd Anderson linebacker Rickey Lewis during the first half of their Class 6A regional quarterfinal playoff game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.
Miami Central running back Kywan Smith is chased by Boyd Anderson linebacker Rickey Lewis during the first half of their Class 6A regional quarterfinal playoff game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Sun Sentinel

Miami Central’s drive for four consecutive state championships goes through familiar territory this week — Daytona Beach.

Much like their crosstown rival, Booker T. Washington — which also is seeking a county-record fourth consecutive state title — the Rockets must overcome an out-of-town foe with payback on its mind.

Central, however, must do what it has done more than most teams statewide the past two postseasons.

A week after a lopsided 36-8 win over Carol City at Traz Powell Stadium, the Rockets (9-2) are on the bus again Friday as they head to Daytona Beach to play Mainland in the Region 4-6A final at 7:30 p.m.

It will be the fifth playoff game for the Rockets outside of Dade County in their past six (not counting last year’s state final in Orlando which is considered a neutral site).

Central is quite familiar with the game’s site — Daytona Municipal Stadium — and the Buccaneers (11-1), who were ranked in the top 25 nationally earlier this season. Central has eliminated Mainland each of past two years and three times in four seasons, including last year’s 31-21 victory in Daytona.

“We know we’re facing a great Daytona Beach Mainland team and we have a lot of respect for them,” Central coach Roland Smith said. “Every year they do a great job with their program.”

Mainland’s standouts haven’t changed from last season for the most part.

Junior quarterback Denzel Houston (6-0, 185) commands a tough offense with explosive targets such as senior running back Adrian Killins and senior wide receiver Randy Baker (5-10, 160).

The Bucs’ defense is led by senior end Jachai Polite, a University of Florida commit, senior tackle Kevin McCray, an FAU commit, and junior defensive back Cyrus Fagan.

Central’s offense showed last week it can still be explosive despite having graduated some of its most dynamic players.

Senior quarterback Jerrod Thomas played one of the best games of his career, throwing three touchdown passes and freshman receiver Jernard Phillips showed his explosiveness catching two of those long passes for 131 yards before being sidelined at the half with an ankle injury.

Mainland has struggled early in its two playoff games so far before pulling away to beat Sebastian River and Palm Bay Heritage.

A quick start could help the Rockets greatly as their defense — led by Keir Thomas and Eric Mitchell, who have 33 sacks combined, and Donovan Thompson (102 tackles, nine sacks) — has allowed only one touchdown in the playoffs and 34 points over their past four games.

“Every year, it’s a new year and a new team with new leaders that have to step up,” Smith said. “Guys like Donovan and Keir Thomas don’t want to be the guys to not go to state and win it. They want to keep the tradition and the legacy going.”

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

▪ Late Wednesday — Westminster Christian 73, Killian 53: Kil — T. Smith 9, B. Anthony 5, D. McLeod 9, C. Coscia 21, S. Ceballero 6, C. Calatayud 3. WC (3-1) — J. Brown 41, T. Halfaker 3, K Paicely 6, R. Stewart 2, J. Avey 13, J. Square 4, T. Brigham 2, J. Wright 4. Half: WC 38-31. Three-pointers: T. Smith, B. Anthony, C. Coscia 3, S. Ceballero 2, C. Calatayud, Hatcher 4, A. Piccimilli. J. Brown 2, J. Avery 3. Rebounds: R. Stewart 7. Assists: Keon 6. Steals: K. Paicely 3.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

▪ Late Wednesday — Monsignor Pace 60, Fort Myers Evangelical 49: ECS — Lynk 9; Blair 8; Heath 1; Gott 2; Tyson 6; Wetmore 2; Golden 21. Pace — Jenkins 24; Wilson 15; Petitcar 2; Barber 5; Johnson 5; Narin 9. Half: Pace 27-20. Three-pointers: Lynk, Wilson 2, Jenkins. Rebounds: Narin 12. Assists: Wilson and Jenkins 3. Steals: Wilson 5.

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS

Region 4-8A final at Harris: Columbus vs. South Dade, 7:30

Region 3-8A final: Delray Beach Atlantic at Flanagan, 7:30

Region 4-7A final: Mater Academy at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7:30

Region 4-6A final: Central at Daytona Beach Mainland, 7:30

Region 4-5A final: Hallandale at Orlando Bishop Moore, 7:30

Class 4A state semifinal at Traz: Cocoa vs. Booker T., 7:30

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL

Lady Raider Invitational at Gulliver: St. Brendan vs. Doral, 6; West Boca vs. Gulliver, 7:30

FRIDAY’S FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

Region 4-8A final at Harris: Columbus vs. South Dade, 7:30

Region 3-8A final: Delray Beach Atlantic at Flanagan, 7:30

Region 4-7A final: Mater Academy at St. Thomas Aquinas, 7:30

Region 4-6A final: Central at Daytona Beach Mainland, 7:30

Region 4-5A final: Hallandale at Orlando Bishop Moore, 7:30

Class 4A state semifinal at Traz: Cocoa vs. Booker T., 7:30

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