TAMPA, FL – Perhaps the most intriguing playoff matchup in the Tampa Bay area this week will take place between Admiral Farragut and Cambridge Christian in the Class 2A-Region 3 Final. The game will be hosted by Jefferson High School on Friday night.
Cambridge Christian won its first ever postseason game last week with a 19-14 victory over Northside Christian. The Lancers (10-0) captured the district title two weeks ago over Carrollwood Day and with a +395 point differential it has been a dominant season thus far for them.
Admiral Farragut (10-1) opened the season with a 22-18 loss to Carrollwood Day. Since then the Blue Jackets have put together 10 straight victories, outscoring opponents 446-138. They shut out Carrollwood Day 34-0 last week in the semifinal round.
This is going to be a highly entertaining matchup between two teams that can put up points in a hurry. With that in mind, here are the three players from each side to watch on Friday when Admiral Farragut and Cambridge Christian battle it out.
RB Andrew Cunningham (Cambridge Christian)
Only a sophomore, running back Andrew Cunningham has a team-leading 22 touchdowns on the ground. As a team, the Lancers have generated 41 rushing scores.
Cunningham, who stands at 6’0″, 195 lbs ranks 10th in the entire state in rushing touchdowns, just two scores behind Jesuit’s standout junior Malik Davis. He’s added a touchdown in all 10 games this season with five also coming through the air.
Despite being held to 96 rushing yards on 27 carries over the last two weeks, Cunningham has three touchdowns to show for it (2 rushing, 1 receiving). He’s a dangerous threat who Cambridge Christian has to get going from the start if they want to earn a big victory.
QB Austyn Causey (Admiral Farragut)
The junior has seen the bulk of playing time under center for the Blue Jackets with Keondrae Miller and Ivan Clare mixing in. Causey isn’t the lengthiest of quarterbacks at 5’11”, but he can tuck and run when he needs to and has a high football IQ.
Causey will be the key to an Admiral Farragut win if he can stay calm and cool in the pocket. In wins over Seffner Christian and Landmark Christian, he posted over 330 passing yards and four touchdowns. He accounted for 21 of the 34 Blue Jacket points with two passing touchdowns and a rushing score last week.
Look for Causey to be focused and tuned in against a stingy Cambridge Christian defense that has yet to allow a 20-point game this year. Causey has all the tools to get the job done, but it won’t be easy.
QB Jaylin Jackson (Cambridge Christian)
Jaylin Jackson is a first-year starter. The sophomore only averages 10 throws per game, but he’s making the most of his attempts with 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He has ridicilous speed at 5’9″, generating five rushing scores and 399 yards on the ground.
Jackson has scored in all but one game this season and with his pure athleticism giving defenses fits he should be able to find open space to make plays this week. He was held to 125 total yards (58 passing, 67 rushing) in last Friday’s win over Northside Christian. The passing yard total was his lowest this season.
Against a beatable Admiral Farragut defensive unit, he could bounce back in this game. Despite being undersized, Jackson is a gifted athlete, who can make things happen simply with his legs. His 22-yard run against Northside was beyond impressive. (video here).
WR Matthew Landers (Admiral Farragut)
Junior wideout Matthew Landers leads Admiral Farragut with 13 receiving touchdowns and 839 yards. He’s averaging 33.6 yards per catch and 104.9 yards per game.
The 6’5″, 180-pounder has all the tools to be successful and even though he failed to add a touchdown in the regional semifinal win last week against Carrollwood Day, he should break out this Friday.
Landers is onto big things following his prep career, but right now the task at hand is taking down undefeated Cambridge Christian. His contributions will make or break this game.
CB Derrick Powell Jr. (Cambridge Christian)
The sophomore ranks second in his class with six interceptions and third overall in the state. Derrick Powell Jr. along with junior J’Kobi Reddick (5 interceptions) have given the Lancers plenty of playmaking ability in the secondary.
Powell Jr. had five tackles and an interception last week against Northside. Much like the rest of his team it’s amazing how successful he’s been at such a young age. He should only get better.
The Lancers need Powell Jr to continue his dominant season on Friday.
DE Jeremiah Zio (Admiral Farragut)
A first-year football player, defensive end Jeremiah Zio leads a balanced Blue Jacket pass rush with three sacks on the season. At 6’7″, 225 lbs, Zio plays basketball for Admiral Farragut as well, so he’s not fully developed as a football player.
Despite his rawness, Zio already has offers out from Lousville and North Carolina. This is a game that could propel his future. If he can make Jackson and the Cambridge backs day that much tougher he should be very happy with what his next years hold.
It’s hard not to miss Zio out on the field, so pay attention to him more often than not. I promise it’s worth it.
Note: The winner will play either Naples-First Baptist Academy or Miami-Dade Christian in the State Semifinals on Nov. 27.
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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