The last time Dr. Phillips and Seminole met it wasn’t pretty. The Panthers crushed Sanford Seminole 44-7 in a 2014 matchup.
Fast forward two years and these are two of the four remaining teams in the Class 8A state tournament. Seminole will host Dr. Phillips on Friday night in a 8A state semifinal. The winner will play either Deerfield Beach or Southridge in Orlando on Saturday, December 10.
For the Seminoles, they find themselves back in the postseason for the first time in four years. With a perfect 12-0 record, this team is averaging 38 points per game on offense. Seminole is searching for its second state title in program history and first since 2008.
Dr. Phillips (11-2) comes to town seasoned as they come. The Panthers have posted an impressive 71-7 record since 2010 as they added their fifth double-digit win season in six years. DP is averaging just over 35 points per game offensively while surrendering 10.3 points during the postseason.
How they got here:
Seminole beat Winter Park 48-31. Dr. Phillips took down Vero Beach 34-24.
Although these teams haven’t played much there is a familiarity between them. The two schools are just 32 miles away from one another in Central Florida across I-4.
Seminole senior quarterback Kaylan Wiggins picked up his fifth Division-I offer on Sunday from FIU. The 6’2″, 200-pounder has accounted for 15 touchdowns on the season. He says he’s expecting a great game from Dr. Phillips.
“We’re all from central Florida so we know each other so we know what they can do,” Wiggins said. “The game plan is the same no need to change what we did to get us to this point.”
Panthers senior tight end/linebacker Nick Smith committed to North Carolina State this summer. The 6’3″, 215-pounder is an integral part of his team’s success. He says he’s expecting a hard-fought game on both sides of the ball.
“This win won’t be easy but as long as we stay true to who we are as a team and just play a complete game I think we will be fine,” Smith said.
The mindset for Seminole each and every week is to go out do their assignments and play a complete game, Wiggins says.
Getting senior playmakers DJ Hampton (16 touchdowns) and Gabriel Davis (7 touchdowns) will certainly help that come to fruition.
For Dr. Phillips, Smith isn’t too pleased following a 24-point performance from Vero Beach last week. He trusts his defense and offense led by senior quarterback and UCF commit Marvin Washington.
“The way our last game played out was great. Even though our defense wasn’t as stout as it’s been throughout the playoffs, we have plenty of weapons on offense,” Smith said. “They are reaching their peak at a perfect time and it’s just going to make it harder to stop us.”
Smith pointed to the versatility of this team as a reason why they can keep this going. Guys like Tanner Ingle, DJ Charles, Albert Gilreath and Henrey Caldwell are guys that he thinks can cover anyone in the nation and play the run like a linebacker.
“Our defense flies around all game and will be a problem for Seminole to deal with,” he said.
The Seminoles have the offense to keep up with Dr. Phillips and Wiggins talked about the hungriness of his group time and time again with me.
“We went through a lot of trials and tribulations together,” he said. “This is our last year so we are going to give it all we got. We’re a very athletic and well-disciplined team. We’ll play assignment football so we’ll be ready for Friday.”
Seminole is 7-0 at home this season and 10-2 there dating back to last season. Wiggins says it means a lot to have a home field advantage. Now, his goal is to get the win in front of his hometown.
The defense is led by junior DeMarco Artis (eight sacks) and senior Ja’Quon Cleveland (two interceptions).
Dr. Phillips and Seminole match up pretty evenly. The road team is loaded with experience and has made deep playoff runs time and time again while the home team hasn’t been in this situation in a long time.
This should be a physical battle that will be decided in the second half. Expect it to be close for much of the night. Seminole has an offense to make enough splash plays while Dr. Phillips has shown the ability to flat out dominate on defense.
This game will likely come down to the ability of the Panthers offense to score enough points to pick up the tough road win. They’ve been able to do it all season long.
With a state title opportunity on the line, don’t expect either of these teams to give up anything easy on Friday night.
Photo credit: Jason Beede, FloridaHSFootball.com
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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