A mid-season review for local teams

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High school football has just crossed the middle of the season.

With the exception of Leesburg and Wildwood, who were unable to play for reasons beyond the control of either team, each Lake and Sumter County program has played at least five games.

At this point in the season, the strengths and weaknesses of each team as well as the trends on the pitch are clear. For many fans, each team’s winning and losing record is a pretty solid indicator of how each team has performed this season.

But the records can be misleading.

A team could have suffered an unexpected loss due to a key injury – or two – to a key player. It was also a year of reclassification for teams participating in the Florida High School Athletic Association, which meant that some teams changed classification, districts – and in rare cases – regions.

Truth be told, there are often underlying reasons for a team’s apparent success and difficulties.

Let’s take a look at the 14 football programs in Lake and Sumter counties at this point in the season and what lies ahead. We’ll include half of that today and the other seven in Thursday’s edition:

Leesburg's Eric Coffie (2) pushes for extra yards against South Lake on August 27 at HO Dabney Stadium in Leesburg. [PAUL RYAN / CORRESPONDENT]

Leesburg, record 3-1

The Yellow Jackets were a pleasant surprise. Ryan Mills became head coach Mark Oates’ offensive coordinator and started the offense. The no-frills ground attack has scored at least 24 points in three of its four games. ground attack

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Defensively, Leesburg was strong, registering a shutout against Ocala Lake Weir and limiting South Lake to six points. The only catch was a 35-6 loss to The Villages.

Leesburg looks almost guaranteed to end the regular season with a .500 record for the first time since 2013. The Yellow Jackets’ toughest games – Dunnellon (Oct. 22) and Lake Minneola (Nov. 5) – are ahead, but the two are at home.

South Sumter's Logan Perry (2) scores a September 10 touchdown against Eustis at Inman Sherman Field in Bushnell. [PAUL RYAN / CORRESPONDENT]

Summer South, 4-2

Locals have been able to count on three things over the past 30 years: death, taxes and winning South Sumter football games.

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The Raiders are young – only 15 seniors on the 60-player roster – but seasoned, the result of learning the “South Sumter Way” to get things done in the various youth football leagues around Bushnell.

Following Friday’s comeback game against Mount Dora, the Raiders will host The Villages in a Sumter County battle of powers – despite Wildwood – before hitting the road for their final two games against Lakeland Christian and Newberry.

Ed Williams (26) of the Villages is aiming for a touchdown against Leesburg on September 24 at HO Dabney Stadium in Leesburg. [PAUL RYAN / CORRESPONDENT]

The Villages, 5-0

The Buffalo are real. In fact, they may be the best all-round team in the history of the program. The Buffalo haven’t shown many, if any, real weaknesses. Defense is strong – with the exception of a 28-25 win over Tarpon Springs East Lake, the Villages have won every game by at least 27 points – and offense can score in the air or crush it to the ground.

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The Villages are on leave this week following the cancellation of Friday’s game against Inverness Citrus, which is still recovering from a player’s death last week in training. The Buffalo have highly anticipated back-to-back games in South Sumter (Oct. 15) and Wildwood (Oct. 22) at The Range, followed by season-ending games against Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch and New Port Richey River Ridge.

Jonathan Harding (15) of Wildwood passes against South Sumter on September 17 at Inman Sherman Field in Bushnell. [PAUL RYAN / CORRESPONDENT]

Wild wood, 3-1

It took a while for Wildwood to get started – the Wildcats didn’t play their first game until Week 3 – but it has continued to build on the success of the past few seasons. Wildwood beat South Sumter at Bushnell – his first regular-season road win over the Raiders since 1990 – but stumbled in their home opener last week against Ocala Trinity Catholic.

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The Wildcats will have the chance to right the ship this week when they host Orlando Christian Prep, the defending Sunshine State Athletic Conference champions and now a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association. After that, Wildwood hit the road for back-to-back games against Gainesville PK Yonge, followed by the 14th edition of their rivalry with The Villages.

Wildwood ends its regular season with home games against Ocala Lake Weir and Winter Haven Ambassadors Christian Academy.

Tavares 'Jalen Mckay (26) scores a touchdown against St. Cloud on Friday at Tavares' Dr. Argin A. Boggus stadium. [PAUL RYAN / CORRESPONDENT]

Tavares, 5-1

The T-Dawgs have something to do. Tavares beat St. Cloud 35-0 on Friday to move to 5-1 for the first time since 2004. To be fair, the 2004 team went 10-0 in the regular season, but Tavares did not. won five games so early in the season. season since then.

Bulldogs beat bulldogs: Tavares outshines St. Cloud in reunion victory

Tavares, like The Villages, has guns on both sides of the ball. They have a powerful running game, which you get, led by Jalen McKay and Jaden Marshall, which probably reminds many longtime fans of the 2004 backfield which included 1,000-yard rusher Dominique Rocker and De’Andrea Vaughn. . The Bulldogs can throw the ball as well, with quarterback Lock McDonald and wide receiver Angelo McDowell.

After a week off, Tavares will host Mount Dora, Eustis and Winter Garden Horizon – all Class 5A-District 6 games – before closing the regular season at home against the Winter Garden Foundation.

Tyree Patterson (11) from Eustis catches a pass during the Panthers' game against South Sumter on September 10 at Inman Sherman Field in Bushnell. [PAUL RYAN / CORRESPONDENT]

Eustis, 4-2

The Panthers are never out of a game with quarterback Blayne Romano and wide receiver Tyree Patterson playing the pitch and catch. The pair – arguably the best in central Florida – have combined for 32 receptions so far for 612 yards and six touchdowns. Truth be told, Eustis has more weapons on offense.

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The running offense, led by Javon Garry’s 445 yards, averages 158.7 yards per game. Four receivers have at least 11 catches and combined for 14 touchdown receptions. Defensively, 11 players have at least 20 tackles – solo and assisted.

After Thursday’s out-of-district game against South Lake, the Panthers will take a week off before concluding the home season against Williston and road games against Class 5A-District 6 – and the longtime Golden Triangle – rivals Tavares and Mount Dora.

Mount Dora, 1-4

At first glance, adversaries might look beyond hurricanes. However, Mount Dora can score – he’s scored at least 34 points in two of the first five games, including 40 in last week’s win over Winter Garden Horizon – and no less than 17 in any game.

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Defensively, however, the Hurricanes gave up at least 32 points in every game. But, in the age of attacking football, if a team can score, they almost always have a chance to win.

Mount Dora – and running back Dante Johnson-Turner, who ran for 307 yards in last week’s win – will be tested by South Sumter on Friday at Bushnell. After that, the Hurricanes will end the season at Tavares, followed by three home games – Orlando Lake Buena Vista, Eustis and Ocala Lake Weir.

This week’s program

Thursday games

Lac Sud (1-4) to Eustis (4-2)

East Ridge (0-5) at Ocoee (3-0)

Friday matches

Les Villages (5-0) at Inverness Citrus (0-4), canceled

Leesburg (3-1) at Ocala Forest (1-4)

Mount Dora (1-4) at South Sumter (4-2), 7:30 p.m.

Mount Dora Christian (3-1) at Melbourne Central Catholic (3-1)

Holidays Anclote (1-4) in Umatilla (2-3)

Orlando Christian Prep (3-1) at Wildwood (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

First Academy from Leesburg (1-4) to Bronson (3-2)

Miami Carol City (2-3) at Lake Minneola (3-2)

SSAC 8-a-side football

Real Life (0-5) at Orlando Eastland Christian (0-4), 5 p.m.

Goodbye week

Tavares

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