Posted: 6:01 pm Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Playoff Primer 2012: Fort Pierce Central meets rival Martin County 

By Jeff Greer

Think they’re getting sick of each other? For the fourth time in two seasons (and second time in two consecutive playoffs), Fort Pierce Central and Martin County are playing one another. Can Central get its fourth win in four tries and set up a probable matchup against powerhouse Bradenton-Manatee?

CLASS 7A REGION 3 SEMIFINAL
Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
At Lawnwood Stadium in Fort Pierce
General admission $8; reserved seating $9.

FORT PIERCE CENTRAL
Record: 10-0.
How they qualified: District 12-7A winner.
Last round: Beat Lemon Bay 41-13 in the regional quarterfinals.
Average points per game: 35.6.
Average points allowed per game: 8.3.
Offense: 360.6 yards per game (171.6 rush, 189 pass)
Defense: 155.6 yards per game (78.4 rush, 77.2 pass)
Offensive standouts: QB Sam Vaughn (64.1 completion rate, 1,7214 passing yards, 18 TDs, 6 INTs, 344 rushing yards, 5 TDs), RB Marcus Levy (648 rushing yards, 14 TDs), WR JJ Stevens (594 receiving yards, 8 TDs).
Defensive standouts: DB Joe Figueroa (five INTs), DE Rashawn Shaw (6-2, 225 pounds), LB Stacey Noble (81 tackles, eight sacks).

MARTIN COUNTY
Record: 5-6
How they qualified: District 12-7A runner-up.
Last round: Beat Punta Gorda-Charlotte 35-32 in the regional quarterfinals.
Average points per game: 20.2.
Average points allowed per game: 25.6.
Offense: 289.5 yards per game (196.9 rush, 92.6 pass)
Defense: 322 yards per game (183.4 rush, 138.6 pass)
Offensive standouts: RB Dan Fillhaber (916 rushing yards, 13 TDs)
Defensive standouts: LB Nolan Shepherd (6-2, 190 pounds)

History
The Treasure Coast rivals met in the regular season this year and twice last season. Fort Pierce Central won all three of those games, including a 40-7 win this regular season.

Jeff’s pick: Fort Pierce Central 38-14.
Matt’s pick: Fort Pierce Central 35-10.
Pinkos prediction: Fort Pierce Central by 35.
Lazindex: Fort Pierce Central by 24.

Fort Pierce Central has been untouchable in the past three meetings with Martin County, and there’s no reason to think this time will be any different. The Cobras’ defense has been on fire, and the offense keeps cruising along. In three meetings (two last year, one regular season this year), Fort Pierce Central won by an average of four touchdowns.

How does Martin County win? It has to start on offense, because Dan Fillhaber may be the best form of defense for the Tigers, at least in terms of keeping Central’s O off the field. Eat up the clock, churn out yardage with the running game and score touchdowns. On defense, it’s really pick your poison. If you start playing cloud and prevent and all the formations that give up underneath passing yardage, Central will just run the ball down your throat. Stack the box? The Cobras have three receivers who can create havoc downfield.

Plainly put: This is a matchup that looks like another Fort Pierce Central blowout. The Cobras can’t afford to assume that, especially with the idea of potentially playing Manatee in the regional final.

helmets courtesy of Florida Helmet Project

Other playoff previews:
CLASS 8AIn regional semifinals, Seminole Ridge and Palm Beach Central ramp up the rivalry

CLASS 7ADwyer’s dominant defense tries to contain Boyd Anderson

CLASS 5AGlades Central hitting its stride in playoffs?

CLASS 3A American Heritage, University meet in powerhouse matchup

CLASS 2APlayoff Primer 2012: Kelvin Taylor, Glades Day cruise into Dade Christian