Posted: 5:32 pm Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Playoff Primer 2012: Glades Central hitting its stride in playoffs? 

By Jeff Greer

Another rematch in the playoffs, and this one’s in 5A between Glades Central and Merritt Island. The Raiders have won seven games in a row and look primed for a playoff run that virtually no one expected at the conclusion of September.

CLASS 5A REGION 4 SEMIFINAL
Friday, Nov. 23, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
At Glades Central, Belle Glade
General admission $8; reserved seating $9.

GLADES CENTRAL
Record: 7-4
How they qualified: District 14-5A winner.
Last round: Beat Rockledge 34-12 in the regional quarterfinals.
Average points per game: 29.5.
Average points allowed per game: 14.9.
Offense: 247.8 yards per game (93.7 rush, 154.1 pass)
Defense: 192.2 yards per game (139.3 rush, 52.9 pass)
Offensive standouts: RB Will Likely (647 rushing yards, 5 TDs), QB TJ Abrams (58.1 completion rate, 1,063 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs)
Defensive standouts: DB David Bailey (5-9, 160).

MERRITT ISLAND
Record: 10-1
How they qualified: District 13-7A winner.
Last round: Beat Jensen Beach 28-0 in the regional quarterfinals.
Average points per game: 31.5.
Average points allowed per game: 5.8.
Offense: N/A
Defense: N/A
Offensive standouts: RB Jaquan Kelly (5-6, 190 pounds), QB Nic Smith (6-4, 200 pounds).

History
Glades Central rolled past Merritt Island 35-0 in the exact same round and matchup last year. The only difference? It was up in Merritt Island, not in Belle Glade, one of the toughest places to play in Florida.

Jeff’s pick: Glades Central 24-10.
Matt’s pick: Glades Central 24-20.
Pinkos prediction: Glades Central by 4.
Lazindex: Merritt Island by 3.

The team that beats Glades Central will be a team that runs the ball with ruthless efficiency. That was Miami Norland’s game last year, and it worked well for the Vikings in their trip to vaunted Effie C. Grear Stadium in Belle Glade. Merritt Island just isn’t Norland, and it certainly doesn’t have Duke Johnson running the ball. Kelly is a good threat as a ball carrier, and Nic Smith has good build and potential, but this is a matchup that favors the rolling Raiders.

Sources in Belle Glade described Will Likely as “hitting another gear” in the first-round playoff game at Rockledge last week, and that’s something that should scare opponents. Glades Central has multiple passing options, each of whom give quarterback TJ Abrams short, medium and long-distance targets. If Likely gets loose, the passing game only gets that much more dangerous.

It’s tough with teams like Merritt Island because there isn’t a ton of information available on the Mustangs, other than final scores, to truly know how good they are. They kept it close with Cocoa, which no easy feat considering how good Cocoa is, and blew out Jensen Beach and Rockledge, the two common opponents Merritt shares with Central. That means this should be a close game, a lot better than it was a year ago.

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 7AFort Pierce Central meets rival Martin County

CLASS 3A American Heritage, University meet in powerhouse matchup

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