Varsity Preps

Kosnitzky’s Korner: Orlando Here We Come! South Dade Dominates Palm Beach Gardens

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When the favored South Dade Bucs trailed 7-0 to the Palm Beach Gardens Gators after Gardens was able to easily march the opening drive 71 yards in 7 plays, there were questions.  Would the home crowd distract the favorite as they played in their first state semifinal? or was the visiting team 115 miles to the north showing the same glimmer they had when they beat top ranked Miramar last week?


After Gators Quarterback, J.P. Caruso would connect for a 15 yard touchdown to Caleb Perez to lead 7-0, South Dade would not flinch. Quarterback, Khalil Render would lead his team to answer back with a 5 yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.  Gators Defensive Back, Anthony Lane would soon pick up an interception in Bucs territory, setting up a 40 yard field goal for Steve Olson but Palm Beach Gardens would not score again. South Dade (13-1) would earn their first trip to the state finals next week with a 37-10 victory over Palm Beach Gardens (9-5) at Harris Field on this evening.


While Render would help break the game open with a 55 yard touchdown pass to Tarviant Williams, a 34 yard touchdown pass to Khevani Francois and a 67 yard touch run himself, the Bucs defense quickly adjusted in the first half which contributed to South Dade’s 31-10 halftime lead.  By loading the box,  the Bucs overwhelmed the Gators offensive line forcing sacks. The Bucs defensive backs were also fast enough to wreak havoc in the secondary. Mario Mezier’s two interceptions on consecutive drives provided the extra spark that South Dade needed to move this game out of reach.


To put things into perspective for this game, the Bucs were indeed entering new territory. When the season started, many of the pundits thought South Dade was the top Region 4-8A team but they played in a county which was embedded with parity. Despite only one regular season loss, the Bucs needed to win their last district game just to take the last playoff spot in District 16-8A. In addition, this home team had played under terrible weather conditions in the past two playoff contests which appeared more like a sandlot game at a local park than what we were accustomed to seeing at this much higher level. The Bucs 6-0 victory over Coral Gables last week with 24 seconds remaining in regulation still left more questions than answers.


Those questions were now answered in a big way. The trip next week will not be easy as they challenge the defending state champion Apopka Blue Darters (13-1) at the Florida Citrus Bowl on Saturday, December 14 at 7:07 p.m.  Apopka will bring their rich history and experience to another state final located in their backyard.   South Dade has waited over 50 years for their experience.  We shall see next Saturday.



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