Preview capsules of Friday night's high school football games
Preview capsules of Friday night's high school football games
Preview capsules of Friday night's high school football games
Preview capsules of Friday night's high school football games
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Related Articles
2018 Leesburg Yellow Jackets Football Archives
Leesburg Yellow Jackets Varsity Football Team during a Kickoff Classic against Inverness Citrus,
Friday, August 24, 2018. (Photo courtesy Ashley Beyer, Freelance Photographer)
Carver Heights Quarterback Club, Leesburg High School, Leesburg, Florida
Leesburg Yellow Jackets vs. Bushnell South Sumter, High School Football Game

Preview capsules of Friday night’s high school football games

By Frank Jolley
Daily Commercial
Friday, August 24, 2018
Updated: Sunday, August 26, 2018, 7:42 p.m.


7 p.m.

Any way you look at it, this is a big opener for two teams looking to set the tone for the 2018 season.

Leesburg showed some immediate improvement last year in coach Mark Oates’ first season at the

South Sumter, meanwhile, felt the impact of losing a huge portion of a team that came within a fraction
of an inch of a spot in the 2016 Class 4A state finals as the Raiders took their lumps in an 0-9 season.

Can Leesburg continue the upward trajectory under Oates? Was that a one-season aberration for
South Sumter?

This game might not provide all the answers, but it will give a good insight to where the two teams
stand at the moment.

“Leesburg always plays us tough and we always have close games with them,” South Sumter coach Ty
Lawrence said. “This is not going to be a blowout because it never is. I hope our kids are ready for a
fight because they are going to get one.”

Leesburg ended a four-game losing streak against South Sumter with a 35-20 win in the season-
opener last year.

The Raiders put on a show in their Kickoff Classic, dominating Wildwood 43-6. Leesburg lost 15-14 to
Inverness Citrus.

“I think at this point of the season we’re just trying to improve in all areas,” Oates said. “There were
some positive things and we got some young kids some game experience.”

The biggest difference for the Yellow Jackets this season is at quarterback, where Wyatt Rector has
graduated and A.J. Graham takes over. Graham hit 6 of 19 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns
in the Kickoff Classic.

“Wyatt wasn’t going to fake you out, he would just run you over,” Lawrence said. “Graham is a lot
shiftier. When you watch him on film, he’s a quick cat. If you had him in a phone booth you still couldn’t
catch him.”


7 p.m.

Last week, the Eustis varsity beat Umatilla 28-0 in two quarters of play in its Kickoff Classic, while Lake
Minneola stopped a two-point conversion with five seconds left to beat Deltona 14-12. Last year, Lake
Minneola beat Eustis 20-13 in overtime. The Hawks hold a 2-1 advantage in the budding rivalry.

Hawks coach Walter Banks said his team has spent the week correcting mistakes from its Kickoff
Classic. Lake Minneola worked on using proper technique in blocking and tackling this week, as well
as correcting physical and mental errors.

“Every mistake the coaching staff saw on videotape was correctable,” Banks said. “So, we’ve tried to
quickly clean that up.”

Banks said he is concerned about Eustis’ athleticism and the size of their offensive and defensive

“We’re going to have our hands full with Eustis,” Banks said.

Eustis coach Mike Hay is worried about Lake Minneola’s size and physicality.

“They have a good quarterback who can make plays with both his arms and his legs,” Hay said.
“Defensively, they are committed to stopping the run and rely heavily on the athletes in their secondary
to stop the pass. In order for us to be successful, we must limit our mistakes and play tough, physical

“With the new playoff system, every week is important and our goal is to be 1-0 every week.”

MOUNT DORA (0-0) at EAST RIDGE (0-0)

7:30 p.m.

Last week in both teams’ Kickoff Classics, Mount Dora lost 42-30 to New Smyrna Beach and East
Ridge fell 20-15 to Orlando Evans. The Hurricanes and Knights last met in the regular season in 2011
with East Ridge walking away with a 42-14 win.

Mount Dora coach Frank Scott said the Hurricanes have spent time this week working on special
teams, especially after missing four extra points and giving up “some big kickoff returns.” He said the
Hurricanes would have to step up their efficiency on both sides of the football to have success against
the Knights.

“East Ridge is a very sound football team and we have to play mistake-free football in order to have a
chance to win,” said Scott, who is making his regular-season debut as head coach.

Knights coach Jason Robinson said East Ridge must become more consistent to have a chance
against the Hurricanes. He also said his players are ready to take the field and play a game with

“We are excited for Friday,” Robinson said. “We worked hard this offseason and kids are ready for their
reward of games that count. The campus is buzzing about this week’s home game. I expect ‘The
Dungeon’ to be rocking.

“We know Mount Dora will be looking to get off to a good start as well, so we will have to bring out our
best effort.”


7 p.m.

Last week was Kickoff Classic week. Tavares lost 22-8 to Weeki Wachee and The Villages blasted
Belleview 27-0 in a game halted in the third quarter due to weather.

Last year, Tavares beat The Villages 49-21.

Bulldogs coach Scott Armatti is beginning his third season at Tavares, while Buffalo coach Richard
Pettus is entering his 16th season at The Villages ... Pettus is the only football coach in school history.

Armatti believes Tavares matches up well with the Buffalo.

“They have some talented players,” Armatti said. “They are fundamentally sound and are very well
coached. We will have to play fast and confident. There won’t be much room for errors like blown
assignments or turnovers.”

The Buffalo will be led by Mac Harris, a run-pass threat at quarterback. Harris missed nearly half of last
season with a knee injury and never really got into the flow of the offense as he worked himself back
into game shape.

However, late in the season, Harris gave Buffalo fans a glimpse into the future when he threw for 156
yards and a touchdown in a 42-35 loss to Wildwood. He also caught a 48-yard scoring pass and made
four tackles and finished the game with 217 total yards.


7:30 p.m.

It could be a mistake to look at last season and think Mount Dora Christian Academy has a cakewalk in
its opener. While the Bulldogs had a perfect regular season a year ago and Seffner Christian struggled
to a 1-8 record, plenty has changed heading into this year’s opener.

At least on Seffner Christian’s side.

MDCA looks to be at least as strong as it was last year, but Seffner Christian returns just about
everybody and cruised to a 46-14 win over Bradenton Christian School in its Kickoff Classic last week.

“They just beat Bradenton by 30 points and Bradenton was a playoff team last year,” MDCA coach Kolby
Tackett said. “Our first three games are no joke. But this is a good first test. We just have to put our
nose to the grindstone and it’s fun when you play a really good team.”

MDCA also cruised in its Kickoff Classic, rolling to a 43-6 win over Ocoee Legacy Charter.

“We looked good but there were a lot of things we need to clean up,” Tackett said. “Usually we don’t
really click until week six or seven.”


7 p.m.

South Lake opens the season by going on the road and stepping up in class to take on a 7A program.
That’s something of a concern for the Eagles since a lack of depth has several players going both
ways for South Lake.

South Lake defeated Liberty 34-7 last year in Groveland as quarterback Baylee Heuser threw for 320
yards and four touchdowns while Kelley Joiner Jr. rushed for 299 yards and two touchdowns.

“We’re playing a 7A school that is very talented and looks like they’ve improved a lot,” South Lake coach
Mark Woolum said. “I see a lot of speed and size over there.”

South Lake will be counting on big performances from Heuser and Joiner again this season and both
players got off to a good start in the Eagles’ 49-14 win over Brooksville Central in the Kickoff Classic.

“We’re excited to get started,” Woolum said. “It’s been a long offseason. We had a good spring game
and a good fall classic. This first week will be a good test for us.”


7 p.m.

Looking to rebound from an injury-plagued 1-8 season a year ago, Umatilla tackles a big challenge in
its opener against Calvary Christian.

The Warriors went 7-3 a year ago and advanced to the Class 3A regional finals in the FHSAA playoffs.

Calvary Christian used a balanced attack last season, throwing for 1,615 yards and 19 touchdowns
while running for another 1,214 yards and 15 scores.

The good news for Umatilla is that Calvary Christian lost several of its top players to graduation and
also had a coaching change in February, with Reggie Crume taking over the head coaching position.

The bad news for Umatilla is that the Bulldogs are also looking to replace many of their top players
from last season.

The Bulldogs struggled in their Kickoff Classic against Eustis, falling 28-0 in the varsity half of the


7 p.m.

Wildwood lost 43-6 to South Sumter in last week’s Kickoff Classic, while P.K. Yonge beat Tampa
Cambridge Christian 36-29 in its Kickoff Classic. Last year, Wildwood beat the Blue Wave 30-2 for its
first win in nearly three years.

Wildcats coach Joey McGuire said he is looking for more consistency from his team in all three phases
of the game — offensive, defense and special teams. He felt Wildwood was “outphysicaled” by South
Sumter, which had more players on its roster than the Wildcats.

That shouldn’t be the case against P.K. Yonge. He feels the Wildcats match up with the Blue Wave
better than the Raiders, because of roster size, if for no other reason.

“They’re big up front, but they should have a lot of guys playing offense and defense, just like us,”
McGuire said.

One Wildcat who McGuire feels stood out against South Sumter was sophomore quarterback Buster
Corbin, who came off the bench to lead Wildwood on its only scoring drive of the night.

“Buster played great for us,” McGuire said. “He showed a lot of poise in the pocket. He threw a couple
of interceptions, but part of that was because we were behind and (South Sumter) knew we had to
throw the ball and they were playing the pass.”

This article was provided by Gerald Lacey
Gerald Lacey is the senior sports writer covering Leesburg High School Sports for the Carver Heights
Quarterback Club™. You can reach him at:
2018 Leesburg Yellow Jackets Football Archives, Leesburg Yellow Jackets Varsity Football Team during a Kickoff Classic against Inverness Citrus, Friday, August 24, 2018. (Photo courtesy Ashley Beyer, Freelance Photographer), Carver Heights Quarterback Club, Leesburg High School, Leesburg, Florida