By Rod Gipson
Tampa Bay Playoff Round-Up
Kissimmee Osceola 14, Tampa Chamberlain 7
The Chiefs came up inches short of possibly making the state semifinals - literally. Chamberlain quarterback Dontae Aycock, running in for the tying touchdown, was tackled on the Osceola 2-yard line as time expired in the game. It was a tough ending to a great season for Chamberlain (9-4).
Largo 28, Cape Coral 13
Unbeaten Largo (13-0) dispatched Cape Coral to reach the state seminfinals - the furthest a Pinellas County team has advanced in the state playoffs since 1997. Do-it-all running back Brynn Harvey was his usual unstoppable self, rushing for 187 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers 28-13.
Seffner Armwood 36, Tampa Plant 7
The Seffner Armwood-Tampa Plant showdown never materialized. Armwood was more physical, faster and just plain better in a 36-7 thumping of its arch-rival. The Hawks scored a touchdown on their first possession, recorded a safety against Plant on the Panthers second possession and it just got worst for Plant from that point.
Tampa Catholic 28, Miami Archbishop Carroll 21
Tampa Catholic, led by a sophomore quarterback, advanced to the Class 2A state final after outlasting Miami Archbishop Carroll 28-21. Christian Green ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another 144 yards and a score to lead Tampa Catholic to the win.
This Week's Matchups
CLASS 5A State Semifinal: Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (12-1) at Largo (13-0)
A meeting of potent offenses. Largo is lead by its backfield duo of running back Brynn Harvey (2,432 yards and 29 touchdowns this season) and quarterback Leonard Johnson (613 yards rushing and six touchdowns and 10 touchdowns passing). During its post-season run, the Packers have outscored their opponents 78-20.
St. Thomas Aquinas, meanwhile, has been one of the winningest prep football programs in south Florida during the past two decades. Since 1999, the Raiders have won 30 playoff games but only one state title. This season, the potent Raider offense scored more than 40 points in seven of its ten regular season games - and three times topped 50 points.
CLASS 4A State Semifinal: Seffner Armwood (13-0) at Miami Booker T. Washington (12-0)
Armwood has advanced to the state title game three times since 2003 - each time eliminating Washington on its way. And don't think Washington has forgotten about that. A determined Washington squad has given up six points this postseason, while scoring 97 and tossing two shutouts in three games.
The Hawks counter with their usual combination of a smothering defense and a steady diet of tough running. Armwood running back Eric Smith and quarterback Mywan Jackson have combined for more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. Armwood won state titles in 2003 and 2004 and lost to Tim Tebow-led St. Augustine Ponte Verde Beach in 2005.
CLASS 2A State Final (Dec. 8 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando): Tampa Catholic (11-2) vs. Madison County (12-1)
After losing its regular season opener by one point, Madison County won nine straight regular season games and has won three more playoff games, scoring more than 40 points in each of those post-season meetings.
Tampa Catholic has quietly worked its way to the 2A state title game. The Crusaders could be without top tailback Drew Zink, who is nursing an injury and did not play last week in the semifinal win against Archbishop Carroll. If Zink can't go, TC will rely on playmaking quarterback Christian Green and wideout Eric Gerken (39 receptions and nine touchdowns).