IT WAS ANOTHER BANNER YEAR IN 2014 FOR NORTH- west-area teams in the state football playoffs with Port St. Joe claiming the ultimate prize. The Sharks beat Ham- ilton County 16-0 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando to bring
the 1A state title back to the area.
Northview (2012) and Jefferson County (2011) had previ-
ously won state titles for the “rural” class in the Panhandle.
Wakulla returned to the postseason in 2014 after missing
out the year before for only the second time since 2002. How-
ever, the War Eagles were knocked out in the first round of
the 5A playoffs by West Florida in a 41-34 shootout. With 16
starters back this fall, expect Wakulla to make a deeper run.
Wakulla was the area’s highest scoring team a year ago and
returns two of the nation’s top offensive weapons in quarter-
back Felipe Franks, an LSU commit, and wide receiver Keith
Gavin, who is committed to Florida State.
Franks threw for 28 touchdowns with only eight intercep-
tions as a junior and rushed for an additional 425 yards and
three scores. Gavin was the leading receiver in the area with
44 catches for 1,131 yards and 16 TDs.
Once again, Wakulla will have to deal with rival Godby as
the winner of Class 5A District 2 has appeared in the state
championship game three of the last four years.
MISSION FROM GOD-BY
Coach Todd Lanter led Godby to its second state title
game in three years last fall and the Cougars will be back
in the mix with dual-threat quarterback Darius Bradwell
returning for his senior year.
Bradwell threw for 1,330 yards and nine touchdowns and
rushed for 895 yards and another 19 scores on the ground.
But the Cougars will have to replace graduated running
back P.J. Williams, who ran for more than 1,800 yards. Expect
Bradwell and returning running back Tyquan Watson to pick
up the slack.
Godby’s defense is led by one of the nation’s top linemen –
Cedric Wood, who at 6-foot- 3, 290 pounds is ranked No. 188
in the ESPN top 300 and is committed to FSU.
The Cougars will have to deal with an extremely talented
Wakulla team in their district, but if they clear that hurdle
another trip to Orlando could be in order.
NOT VERY NICE
Niceville made it to the 7A state championship game in
2013, losing to Dwyer 55-39. Last year, the Eagles came up a
round short of Orlando, dropping the 7A state semifinal game
Niceville now drops down to 6A where the Eagles will play
in a district with Choctaw, Fort Walton Beach and Crestview.
While Niceville only returns two starters on both sides
of the ball and loses 35 seniors to graduation, coach John
Hicks believes his team will be good at the skill positions
and in the kicking game.
Tyler Russell takes over at quarterback for the graduated
Colby Tuthill and Drew Frederic. Deonte Sheffield and Eli Stove
are the top returning rushers from a year ago and they will be
leaned on to replace graduated Shi’kim Coward, who rushed
for almost 1,300 yards. Stove is also the top returning receiver
after accumulating 719 yards a year ago.
Niceville will be inexperienced on defense, but if the offensive line comes together another deep playoff run could be in
store. – Chuck Dowling
Wakulla’s Keith Gavin was
the leading receiver in the
area last season with 44
catches for 1,131 yards and
QB Feleipe Franks, Wakulla
RB Azende’ Ray, Walton
RB Tyquan Watson, Godby
WR Eli Stove, Niceville
WR Keith Gavin, Wakulla
OL Christion Gainer, Bay
OL Nick Brahms, Navarre
OL Zach Leonard, Godby
OL Travius Harris, Rickards
OL William Waddell, Leon
UT Terrell Powell, North Florida Christian
UT Malik Garye, Tallahassee Lincoln
DL Janarius Robinson, Bay
DL Cedric Wood, Godby
DL Jalon Sheffield, Leon
DL Kalia Davis, West Florida Tech
LB Jayrod Sanders, North Florida Christian
LB Gabe Kenon, Rickards
LB Jordan Brownlee, Rickards
DB Romeo Finley, Niceville
DB Trey Sanders, Port St. Joe
DB Qwuantrezz Knight, West Gadsden
DB Armunz Matthews, North Florida
UT Korey Charles, North Florida Christian
5. West Florida