The Single-Wing Sentinel Congratulates The Blue Darters for an Outstanding Year!
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
It's a Brave new world for Boone
The Braves outlast Apopka 21-18 to secure their first trip to the state final, and it will be a short one to the Citrus Bowl.
Sentinel Staff Writer
December 8, 2007
The Boone Braves will play for a Class 6A football state championship.
Those words never had been true before Friday night.
The Braves (14-0) defeated Apopka (12-2) 21-18 to advance to the Class 6A state championship game for the first time. Boone will play Miami Northwestern, the nation's No. 1 team, next Saturday at the Citrus Bowl.
"I don't think any coach at the beginning of the season thinks his team is going to be undefeated going into the state championship game," Boone Coach Phil Ziglar said. "You dream about something like this."
Facing a fourth-and-6 at Boone's 22-yard line, Apopka was down by three and in field-goal range with less than two minutes remaining. Apopka took its last timeout.
Then Ziglar gathered his players and reminded them of what happened last year when Boone played Lake Brantley in the state semifinal, took the lead with 1 minute, 49 seconds left, gave up a touchdown with 1:17 remaining and lost 34-31.
"I said, 'Guys, it's 1:40 again,' " Ziglar said. " 'Let's not go home this time.' "
Apopka fumbled the snap and fell on it, and the nervous Boone fans who made up two-thirds of the sellout crowd erupted.
"We were not going to lose this game," Boone defensive back/receiver Jeremy Brown said. "We love this stuff."
The big plays with which Apopka demoralized opponents most of the season belonged to Boone in the first half.
The Braves' James Washington finished with 186 rushing yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run. He picked up a 54-yard run on the first play after Apopka's kickoff. He later picked up a 22-yard run to start the Braves' first touchdown drive.
On Boone's fourth possession, quarterback Sam Hutsell found receiver Jeremy Brown on a deep route for an 80-yard touchdown.
"We observed that there was no deep safety," Brown said. "It was a great throw from Sam Hutsell."
Facing an early deficit and unable to break off spectacular plays, Apopka put together methodical but effective drives. Quarterback Jeremy Gallon finished with 127 rushing yards and a touchdown. Apopka running back Jeremy Rouse finished with 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
"They were the better team tonight," Apopka Coach Rick Darlington said, nodding.
The Blue Darters failed to convert two-point conversions on their first two touchdowns, then missed the extra point on their third.
Three crucial Boone fumbles helped the Blue Darters stay close.
With 3:34 left, Hutsell was hit hard and fumbled right at Apopka's Deiontae Payne. Payne's fumble recovery began the drive that threatened Boone's lead.
But the comeback was not to be.
"I love these kids; these sophomores played like seniors," said Akeem Jones, an Apopka senior offensive lineman, one of the few senior starters on the team. "This is just the building block for next year."
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