VERO BEACH – Vero Beach (7-2) travels to Boca Raton (8-2) for round one of the FHSAA 6A football playoffs Friday.
The Fighting Indians will look to end a two-game losing streak against the Bobcats, a team that was fined $5,000 and forced to forfeit all eight of their wins a year ago by the FHSAA. The Boca Raton football program was put on probation because of recruiting violations regarding the transfer of star QB Eddie Sullivan who played at Park Vista his sophomore year. The Fighting Indians last saw Sullivan in 2007, when he led Park Vista to a 14-7 win. He was 7/13 passing for 80 yards that game, and ran for a 17-yard TD.
VBHS Coach Gary Coggin knows Boca Raton’s passing game will test his team.
“They like to throw it around,” said Coggin. “But, they’ll take what the defense gives them. They are a team that will pass to set up the run – and they can run with the best of them.”
Coggin and his assistants scouted the Bobcats last week and came away impressed with their program. First-year coach and former NFL star Keith Byars has 12 assistants on his staff.
“I didn’t see any weaknesses in their program,” said Coggin. “They are very organized, and their coaching staff is on top of everything during the game. They don’t have tremendous size, but they are a very well-coached football team.”
Boca Raton is giving up over 155 rushing yards per game on defense, which is encouraging to the run-oriented Wing-T offense of VBHS.
“You hope you are going to be able to run the ball,” said Coggin. “They will attack us on defense, so we must stay on our blocks and protect the football on offense.”
The Fighting Indians come into the playoffs averaging 194 rushing yards per game, and are led by junior running backs Jormonte Hunter and Antone Taylor. Hunter gets the tough yards up the middle, and leads the team with 850 yards rushing and 14 TDs. Taylor is a cutback runner, and has rushed for 426 yards and two TDs on the year.
The contrast in styles makes this game an intriguing matchup. Vero Beach will try to control the tempo with their running game, and Boca Raton will try to make the game into a shootout with their air attack. Most are favoring the Bobcats at home in this game, but don’t count out the Fighting Indians.
Friday’s game has a 7:30 kickoff time, and can be heard on Christian Radio 91.9. Those travelling to the game in Boca Raton will find the stadium at the junction of I-95 and Glades Rd.