Clean your calendars, football fans. From now through November, Friday nights will be filled with varsity team action.
And what better way to start the autumn than to renew a rivalry between West Volusia between a couple of 8A programs?
Reloaded University meets rejuvenated DeLand at the Spec Mart Memorial Stadium, the only pre-season classic that marks a couple of area programs. Kickoff is established by 7 p.m.
The scheduled classic of last year was canceled due to inclement weather, and the teams have not met in the regular season since 2014.
"You have to be excited to play, that's why you do it," said DeLand coach Steve Allen. "It will give us the opportunity to see who we are and what we need to be doing."
"For many of the kids here, they have never played against the University, it's (a rivalry), and it's not, it's a community rivalry."
3 THINGS TO MAINTAIN AN EYE ON
1. Share the carry
No player is expected to replicate the production of Lorenzo Lingard, who ran for 1,701 yards and 26 touchdowns. However, the University likes its junior quartet Kyle Metiam and Spencer Walker, and freshman Jalon Brown and Chandler Powers. Metiam, who broke a 62-yard touchdown against Apopka in the spring, is probably the cow of the bell, but expects the four to succeed in the carries.
"Last year, we were an injury from the catastrophe," said Titans coach Brian Kells. "This year, we have several backs that can fill in different places, and they are good and hardworking."
2. New faces in DeLand
On the other hand, DeLand did not have a spring game, so this will be the first time that the Bulldogs have competed since last November.
Several key returnees (receiver Dionte Marks, linebackers Ian Schoenwetter and Ty Woulard, etc.) will be joined by a large number of talented newcomers. Demaurez Bellamy arrived in spring from the continent, and the USF commitment is expected to be the corridor of all the stages below. Jadyn Nirschl has fought for the wink to the quarterback, and Traquan McNair moved from Deltona to strengthen the trenches.
In addition, Avantae Williams, formerly a Miami commitment, returned after a semester at IMG Academy. He is number one security in the 2020 recruiting class, according to ESPN.
3. Looking for leaders
In addition to Lingard's production, Kells said the Titans will lose their leadership on and off the field. He is looking for some of his most experienced players to take over.
All-State guard Thomas Schiffman and wide receiver Jalyx Hunt will be the building blocks of the offense, while Gage Nye and Tahliq Jones will lead the defense.
IN ANOTHER ACTION
St. Joseph Academy at Taylor, 5
Taylor received a big boost during the three days after the fall practice when senior Jaden Reeves put on the suit. The dynamic bidirectional threat earned honors from the second All-Area team and averaged 134.9 yards per game. It could be said that St. Joseph has his two best players: quarterback Dylan Thibault (1,739 passing yards, 180 rushing yards, 25 total touchdowns) and linebacker James Drysdale (112 tackles). The Flashes went 4-4 and finished the 2017 season by hanging 82 points at Rocky Bayou Christian of Niceville.
Pine Ridge (0-0) in Waycross (Ga.) Ware County (0-0), 7
While almost all other teams in the area participate in a general rehearsal, the Pine Ridge game will be the first to count. The Georgia high school schedule starts one week before the Florida one, which means the Panthers will earn FHSAA points, win or lose. Blake Lee (36 catches, 605 yards, 8 TD) ranked fifth in the receiving area and will be the main offensive weapon in the future. Ware County advanced to the second round of the playoffs and averaged 196.9 rushing yards per game in 2017.
Picks: Chris Boyle – Ware County 38, Pine Ridge 21; Zach Dean – Ware County 23, Pine Ridge 20; Godwin Kelly – Pine Ridge 14, Ware County 10
Apopka in Mainland, 7
For the second consecutive August, two of the elite squads of Central Florida will meet face to face. Apopka swept the Bucs early and held on to win 26-14 this time last year, but several of the Blue Darters' best blockers (Will Barnes, Ed Montilus, Shadderick Bradford) have advanced. However, Jecoryan Davis-Hamilton and Jackson Darlington have a tremendous 1-2 quarterback. Continental runner D'Andre McMillian did not participate in the official clinic clashes last weekend against the CPF, but may be available on Friday. Andrew Plummer could be in a great season; USF's commitment is in line to start as receiver and security.
Atlantic Coast at Flagler Palm Coast, 7
The expectations for the Bulldogs are very high after a 9-0 competition in the regular season in 2017. The best FPC quarterback (Donovan Montoyo), the runner (Ty Jenkins), the offensive lineman (Verneal Henshaw), the pass rusher (Nelson Paul), tackler (Tallin Coates) and five defenders (Dennis Shorter, Damien Irven, Woody Dezius, Marquise Gilbert and Ja'Corey Benjamin) have returned. After a 2-8 season, Atlantic Coast will launch a new quarterback, Neptune Beach Fletcher will transfer to Bubba Wohlgemuth. Second-year receiver Patrick Bryant, 6 feet 3 and 185 pounds, is the main man of the Stingrays.
Spruce Creek in Sanford Seminole, 7
Two playoff qualifiers in Region 1-8A, Spruce Creek and Seminole are a tempting showdown. Apart from high school, the Hawks' defense suffered significant losses. However, they beat running back Marvin Scott, who ran for almost 4,800 yards over the past three years at Warner Christian. Watch the quarterback game when junior Andrew Acebal and newcomer Nick Christiano try to take over. Second-year Seminole quarterback Timmy McClain was formed in his first college game, pitching for more than 1,700 yards with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
New Smyrna Beach at Mount Dora, 7
It's a whole new world at New Smyrna Beach, where four-time state champion John Wilkinson has had four months to tune up his Barracudas. Runner Einaj Carter, wide receiver Zazion Hudson (healed from a broken clavicle in the spring) and linemen Josh Cox and Drew Peterson lead those returning from a 5-5 team. Mount Dora faces a pair of Volusia opponents during the regular season (Pine Ridge, Atlantic). Steven Schwarz threw 19 touchdowns for the Hurricanes, and Isayah Hatter led the team in rushing with 829 yards along with seven scores.
Lake Minneola in Deltona, 7
Deltona suffered a significant blow to the defense last week when middle linebacker Latrell Faison suffered a tear in the meniscus. It could miss more than three months, jeopardizing its availability for the entire season. Wolves coach Allen Johnson expects the offense to lead the way at the start of a considerable offensive line, three versatile runners (Jio Reyes, Josh Ramirez and Isaiah Gordon) and an experienced quarterback (Dillon Torres). Lake Minneola made great progress in 2017, improving from 1-9 to 5-5 under coach Walter Banks. The loss of lead broker Fred Jackson is quite massive, however.
Atlantic in Crescent City, 7
There are many positive vibes in Port Orange when the Sharks start a new era under DJ Mayo and recover from a second season of 0-10 in three years. Junior linebacker Ty Berrong, the key newcomer to Spruce Creek, could lose half of the year with a partial high-grade PCL break. Maximus Campbell exploded Tavares' secondary in the spring, catching nine passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Crescent City won seven victories, closing the campaign by defeating both Taylor and Pine Ridge. Junior quarterback Naykee Scott scored almost 3,000 yards of offense with 33 touchdowns.
Trinity Christian in Trinity Prep, 7
The Eagles endured many growing pains last season, being outscored 381-25 in their first eight games. However, 10 offensive starters and nine defensive starters are back for first-year coach Troy Rayburn. He expects a little resurgence this fall. It can be difficult to ride a sled against a strong Trinity Prep club in Winter Park. The coveted senior quarterback Spencer Fetter completed 66.7 percent of his attempts with 32 touchdowns and only three selections.
Halifax in John Carroll Catholic, 7
Halifax set a program record with four victories in 2017, although the main offensive weapon Toure Mack has graduated. The Knights will depend on a heavy dose of race, largely behind the guards Michael Highsmith and Jeremiah Henley and center Carlous McKay. It will be a long trip to Fort Pierce, where John Carroll Catholic awaits. The Rams recorded a 2-7 record, including a 28-0 home loss to Father Lopez, en route to a fourth place in District 15-5A.