Football wins districts, advances to regional playoffs

Justin Baronoff, Staff Reporter

On Friday, Oct. 30, the varsity football team defeated Edgewater High School, 35-21, to win their first Class 7A District championship and earn a spot in the regional quarterfinals.

“This has been my goal ever since I got here, but I thought we would have had it last year,” head coach Phil Ziglar said. “The football gods wanted us to win and this is where you want to be as a program.”

During the game, running back Gabe Diaz led the way with a team high 244 yards on 23 carries and three rushing touchdowns in the game, including one for 81 yards during the team’s third play of the game.

“Throughout the season, I’ve done a lot of drills to better my vision of the field and because of that, it definitely paid off, as history was made for this school,” Diaz said.

Wide receiver Curtis Duran recorded an eight-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter, and running back Tristan Tucker added a 24-yard rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter this season, Edgewater has averaged 27 points, but were held to just seven in the fourth quarter in this game.

“We didn’t really know much about them before the game, besides having some athletes,” defensive back Micah Young said. “We attacked with the same old plan and the team chemistry played a huge factor in the win.”

Even though the team won would have been awarded a playoff bid if they lost because of, Ocoee’s 33-28 win over Lake Minneola, the district title was the goal.

“The way I look at it is if you win, you’re a legitimate district champion, and that’s what we did,” Ziglar said.

As head coach of Boone High School for 23 seasons, Ziglar’s primary rival was Edgewater. Ziglar won his last district title in 2007 with Boone.
In the month of October, the team went undefeated, outscoring their opponents 91-54 in the second half. Through the first part of the season, the team struggled in the second half of games and lost because of it, being outscored 66-27 before turning it around in October.

“We started to execute a lot more in [October],” wide receiver Alex Swenson said. “We had to capitalize off of every possession and couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.”

After a 28-17 win at Ocoee on Oct. 2, the team played three straight home games against East Ridge, Colonial and Lake Howell in the homecoming game. Over those three games, the team scored an average of 45 points a game.

Against East Ridge, the team had a historic night, scoring a school record 62 points, while Tucker scored six touchdowns of his own, also a school record for most touchdowns by a single player.

“[Tristan’s] done an excellent job of handling this offense, even though I wouldn’t consider him a quarterback,” Ziglar said. “We’ve faced a lot of injuries this season and most schools would have folded because of it, but not these kids.”

The team will make their first playoff appearance since 2010 against Bartram Trail on Friday, Nov. 13 and will be the first time the team has hosted a playoff game.

In 2010, the team lost in the regional quarterfinals to Lakeland, 56-35, despite 494 total yards of offense from former quarterback Jeff Driskel, who went on to play for the University of Florida and Louisiana Tech. ESPN had ranked Driskel as the number one quarterback in the nation that year.

“That team with [Driskel] took second and got in the playoffs, but we took first and got a banner,” Duran said. “It means so much to be the first team in school history to take the whole district.”

However, before the team’s playoff matchup, they will play their final regular season game, this Friday, Nov. 6 against non-district Timber Creek in the Senior Night game.

“Our slogan since day one was to get better every day, and everyone has lived up to that,” Ziglar said. “The kids bought into what we wanted to do this season and we’ll just have to keep preparing for our last [regular season] game and then the playoffs.”

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