Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

Battle for bragging rights


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With neither team moving on to the playoffs, tonight's game between Avon Park and Sebring is all about earning a win and bragging rights on the gridiron.

The Class 4A Red Devils come in at 1-8 while the Class 6A Blue Streaks are 5-4 heading into tonight's renewal of the second oldest high school football rivalry in the state that began in 1926.

"We're looking forward to playing Sebring," said first-year Avon Park coach Wade Jackson. "It's a great rivalry with a lot of history and we're not at their level yet, but we're going to go out, play hard and see what happens."

Avon Park earned its first win of the season last Friday with a 49-28 thrashing of Lake Placid.

"We beat Lake Placid last week and a win against Sebring would really give us a lot of momentum heading into the offseason," Jackson said. "We've improved a lot from the beginning of the season on offense and defense and we're going to need to play well to beat a good Sebring team."

Sebring, which has suffered a number of injuries to key players, has struggled recently and is in the throes of a three-game losing streak.

The Blue Streaks saw their playoff hopes vanish with a 30-7 loss to Lake Gibson last Friday night.

A win against Avon Park would give Sebring a wining record and continue its domination of the Red Devils, who last won in 2005.

"We haven't won since 2005," said Jackson. "I was an assistant coach on that team and it's hard to beat your rival, but it's something that we want to do and we hope to be able to accomplish."

Sebring started the season 5-1, but injuries and a tough schedule have taken their toll over the last three games.

"We need to get back on the winning track," said Blue Streak coach LaVaar Scott. "We need a win real bad and we know Avon Park is coming in flying high after beating Lake Placid last week.

"The Red Devils are more organized than they were last year, they play hard the entire game and they make a lot of big plays on offense."

The Sebring offense has struggled to put points on the scoreboard while Avon Park is starting to hit on all cylinders.

"Avon Park doesn't drive down the field, they hit you with big plays of 20 yards or more," Scott said. "We're going to have to play our assignments and limit the big plays we give up.

"Their front line is very physical and we have to get off blocks, make a play and tackle well."

The Blue Streaks have a number of seniors who will be playing their last game at Firemen's Field and Scott wants to send them out the right way with a victory over the Red Devils.

"We have 14 seniors and our young guys want to make sure they walk off that field as winners," Scott said. "A win would mean the seniors never lost to Avon Park and that's something they'll always remember.

"And a win would make us 6-4 and that sounds a lot better than 5-5."

Kickoff for tonight's clash is set for 7 at Firemen's Field.

"The players are excited about taking on Avon Park and we know there will be a big crowd on hand for this game," said Scott. "We want to win and head into the offseason with a lot of confidence."

mpinson@highlandstoday.com

863-386-5841

Avon Park at Sebring

When: 7 tonight

Where: Firemen's Field

Cost: $5

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