Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

Middle School Playoffs: Fletcher vs Mandarin

And then there were two!!  Four teams went into Thursday Night’s playoff games vying for a chance to advance to the middle school city championship game. Gilbert and Mandarin came into the contest red hot and undefeated. While Fletcher and Stillwell battled their way through their divisions to the tournement. It was Gilbert vs Stillwell and Fletcher vs Mandarin for the chance to play for the title!

 

 

 

 

 

Fletcher vs Mandarin

This contest featured two teams from different paths. Mandarin rolled through the south division undefeated. They played an out of conference game against Fletcher in week # 3 of the regular season in which they defeated the senators 14-0.  Led by returning players Randy Haynes, Tyler Derigorio, and Desean Davis, Mandarin possessed a mixture of size,  speed and experience. Many had them as favorites going into this contest.

 

Fletcher on the other hand started the season off slow.  At 1-2 Coach Marty McCauslin never wavered or panicked. A key game in week #4 versus division rival Arlington proved to be crucial for their season. A double overtime victory not only propelled them to the division title, but it also prepared them for this playoff game with Mandarin.

 

Mandarin and Fletcher traded scores throughout the game. A back and forth affair ended regulation in a 14-14 tie. Coach McCauslin told his team ” We’ve been here before so play with heart”.  And heart is what they would need on this night.

 

  Mandarin took the first possession of overtime into the endzone to go up 20-14. It was Fletcher’s turn to answer. Courtesy of  their bruising fullback. They patiently and methodically drove the ball from ten yards out on four downs and punched it in from the one.

Overtime number two gave Fletcher the ball first. Once again pounding the rock to the endzone by their workhorse fullback.  Their conversion was good on a tough reverse by Adrian Chavers and Fletcher went up 28-20.

Mandarin’s next drive was a roller coaster of emotion. They drove close to the goal line, only to be stopped on 3rd down by a  hard tackle by Fletcher’s CB # 21.  Fourth down and goal to go Mandarin’s Quarterback rolled to his right and hit a wide open receiver in the end zone to score. They needed a two point conversion to tie and the perfect play call, but they would only got one out of two as the TE pop pass ricocheted off the hands of the would be receiver in the end zone.

 

Emotions were hard to control after the game, as both teams played their guts out to the bitter end. Mandarin was down one of their best running backs and linemen to injury for this game, but as their Head Coach pointed out” they have tremendous resiliency and will get ready for the third place game” (against Stillwell). Yet on this evening the senators reign as victors and move on to face Gilbert in the city Championship. Of the chance to face Gilbert Coach McCauslin says ” I feel like we have a team that can hang with them and as long as they play with heart  you never know”.

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