Photography by ALICE MARY HERDEN
Brooksville, FL- “Good luck in the playoffs,” First Coast Christian player Christopher Mitrosky said during handshakes at the end of the game.
Hernando Christian Academy defeated First Coast Christian and advances to game five in the 2019 Florida Sunshine State Football Playoffs.
The weather was dreary and wet. Dark clouds above, temperature dropping, scattered rain wasn’t ideal conditions for the visitors watching the game but fortunately, it didn’t affect any of the players on either team. It's playoffs!
First Coast Christian traveled 145 miles from Jacksonville to go up against Hernando Christian Academy (HCA) to start the 2019 Florida Sunshine State Football Playoffs.
The first two-quarters HCA dominated the scoreboard. Jordon Kilcrease rushed 135 yards for seven touchdowns. Riley Decker and Aiden Hopping each scored a touchdown before halftime placing First Coast Christian in a no-win situation.
First Coast Christian didn’t stop; even after a 30-minutes of game delay, they still wanted to give everything they had. They traveled for three hours, quitting before the final whistle was blown was not an option.
First Coast Christian pumped up after the game delay. HCA defense struggled from the distraction and allowed First Coast to cross over the goal line one last time to put 6 more points on the board. HCA was only able to get one more touchdown in the second half ending the game at 68-12.
During the end of the game huddle, both teams displayed great sportsmanship. First Coast Christian expressed their personal ‘good luck’ as they shook the hands of each HCA player and coaches.
“I am excited. We got one down, let’s go get the two,” coach Schwan said, in the after the game huddle.
Now, HCA will face 2018 state champs Riverside Christian on November 15 for game five of the 2019 Florida Sunshine State Football Playoffs- FCS 6-Man.
Riverside and HCA have a common goal and that is what's going to make this game very interesting. Both teams know they have another opportunity to face the only team that defeated them: Donahue Catholic.
Riverside played Donahue back on October 11 with a loss of 48-20. HCA also played Donahue on September 27 with only a 7 point loss (45-38). For HCA, knowing they only lost by 7 points is definitely the Lion's motivation to win against Riverside.
“Riverside is right there as far as the same level as Donahue,” coach Raley said. “Our most important thing is to have a good week of practice and focus.”
The pressure HCA players will endure until they step foot on Riverside’s home field is going to be intense, not only physically but mentally.
“My job is to work on the emotion of the moment, to get them ready to play without getting them too tight,” Raley said. “The nature of the playoff games are different; you can feel it. Teams don’t give up. You can feel the pressure, and it’s my job to ride that edge, to get them pushed over without pushing them over too far.”
The Lion’s have to play smart and clean. They will face a team that could possibly push them to their limits, both physically and mentally. Control and focus, as coach Raley stated, will be the key to their success when playing against Riverside.