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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 3 weeks ago

Seabreeze, Mainland on hot streaks entering the playoffs

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The Sandcrabs host Rockledge, while the Bucs get a rematch with Orlando Jones.
by: Brent Woronoff Staff Writer

The Seabreeze High School football team is hosting its first playoff game since 2007.

Mainland, on the other hand, is in the playoffs for the 28th consecutive year.

Both teams are right on schedule.

Seabreeze will host Rockledge in a Region 2-5A quarterfinal on Friday, Nov. 12, at Daytona Stadium.

Mainland will hit the road for a rematch with Orlando Jones in a Region 2-6A quarterfinal.

In 2019, Seabreeze coach Pat Brown took over a team that went 1-9 and didn’t score more than seven points in any of its losses.

The Sandcrabs went 5-5 in Brown’s first season. This year, they went 6-4, ending the season with four straight wins.

After graduating 17 seniors and adding some transfers and freshmen to the lineup, it took time for the Sandcrabs to find their identity this season, Brown said.

“It took time to see which pieces fit,” he said.

After teams were having success running against the Sandcrabs early in the season, they reinforced their defensive front.

Jamari Hicks and Toma Pouncey Jr. began the season as running backs. Both juniors volunteered to help out on defense, and now they are stalwarts on the defensive line.

“They helped shore up some things. They’re kind of like unsung heroes,” Brown said.

But perhaps the No. 1 reason for the Sandcrabs’ improved run defense has been the development of 275-pound sophomore defensive tackle Mike Shropshire.

“From week to week, how much he gets better is frightening,” Brown said.

Mainland (5-4) also figured things out as the season has progressed under first-year coach Travis Roland. The Bucs began the year 1-3 and were in danger of missing the playoffs for the time since 1993.

But they have won four of their last five games, with their Nov. 5 season finale at Jacksonville Bolles canceled because of severe weather. Their only loss during that span was to Jones, 33-21, on Oct. 15 in Orlando. The Tigers jumped out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead.

“Coming into the game, they passed 78% of the time,” Roland said. “Then they came out and ran the ball, shockingly enough. It took us a minute to adjust our mindset. Once we settled down, they didn’t score again until the fourth quarter.

“We’re kind of ready for everything now.”

The Bucs have improved their passing game in recent weeks and are more balanced, Roland said.

“We threw 10 to 12 touchdown passes over the past month," he said. "Now it complements our running game.”

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