Varsity Preps

Kosnitzky’s Korner: 5A American Heritage and Lake Wales Battle For a Trip to the Final

(Photo Source: Daily Ridge)


For  Lake Wales (9-4) to host a team in the 5A state semifinals, they have come a long way in the past few weeks. Despite winning District 10-6A, the Highlanders finished the regular season 6-4 and then beating Tampa Jesuit two weeks ago followed by Merrrit Island  in the Region 3-6A Final by double digits was not something that many would expect.  


The Polk County School operates  primarily a run oriented offense that emphasizes ball control and efficiency.  Justin Henderson leads the ground game with over 1,500 yards rushing and nearly 8 yards per carry.  His season high performance was 166 yards against Merritt Island last week.   Earnest Hamilton has over 600 yards this season and will receive the football more often in short yardage situations.  


With the passing game, Quarterback,  Railond Garrett  has 1,150 yards passing.   This pocket passer has 11 touchdown passes. The team’s leading receivers are Darion Staten and Davi’on Riley who have combined for nearly 1,000 receiving yards.  Defensively, Linebacker,  Eddie Joseph leads the team with 65 tackles and is also tied on the team with 7 sacks. 


Traveling 175 miles from the Southeast is Plantation American Heritage (12-1).  Aside from an early loss to Miami Central, the remaining team from Broward County has been dominant.  The District 16-6A Champion has scored 141 points in three playoff games.  Quarterback, Torrance Gibson provides a dual threat to the team’s balanced attack.  With approximately 1,800 yards passing and 800 yards rushing, Gibson complicates matters for any opposing defense.  


Running Back, Sony Michel has maintained his national dominance with over 1,600 yards rushing which occurs mostly in the first half of games. Isaiah McKenzie provides additional support with over 1,500 all purpose yards, in addition to his role as the leading receiver on the team.  Defensive Back, Carter Jacobs leads the team with 62 tackles as he assists with many of the run packages used by the defense.  Linebacker, Anthony Flory covers the other side of the defense with over 7 tackles per game. 


For Lake Wales, they enter with momentum despite being 20 point underdogs at home.  The vanilla, “make no mistake” approach has proven fruitful and having the comfort of home can never be overlooked by anyone.  For American Heritage, and players like Sony Michel, they have been told for too long  “that this could be the year.”  Traveling a few hours on game day through the Lake and playing in a confined local community can always be precarious.   The Patriots have looked sharp all season.  I do not expect a let down this week.




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