By CHRIS ERRINGTON | Special correspondent
Published: November 06, 2011
“We’ve got some great kids and this is going to be a special experience for them,” Taylor said. “They deserve it and we’ll let them celebrate it for awhile, but we also know we’re not done yet.”
The celebration could have begun following a 21-point fourth quarter a week earlier in a shocking, 48-42 come-from-behind victory over Zephyrhills. Or it could have started after senior quarterback Tyler Degen hit Sean McKillen with a 36-yard scoring strike on Friday’s fourth play.
Unlike a week earlier, the game at Ridgewood was never in doubt as an offense that’s come alive, scoring 69 points in the past five quarters, clicked all evening. Degen connected on 9-of-13 passes for 183 yards and four touchdowns and senior tailback Kyrie Rodriguez added 129 yards and a pair of scores on 11 rushes as all the games’ scoring was done in the first half. From there it was just a matter of the starters watching back-ups whittle down a running clock and steadying themselves for the news they anxiously awaited.
Fivay’s victory guaranteed at least a three-way tie atop the Class 5A-District 6 standings between the Falcons, Zephyrhills and Pasco. But, when the news came that Pasco had trounced Zephyrhills 45-0, it left the Bulldogs with two district losses and assured Fivay of a playoff berth.
“We were waiting for coach to tell us [Zephyrhills had lost to Pasco], but even now I still can’t believe we’re going to the playoffs,” Rodriguez said. “Even though I did it at Hudson as a sophomore, it feels like I witnessed something once in a lifetime. It’s not going to be easy, because there are no [weak] teams in the playoffs, but we know we’re good, too, because we’re here.”
Fivay (7-2, 5-1) still has a regular season game at Inverness Citrus (4-5) before travelling to 5A-5 champion Citra North Marion for a first round playoff game.
The Colts (7-2, 5-0) clinched the district title with a 9-3 victory over Dunnellon on Friday and have won four straight and handed playoff-bound district foe Alachua Santa Fe its only loss of the season, 38-0. North Marion has outscored its opponents 238-93 this season and its only losses have come against playoff-bound Ocala Vanguard, 8-2, and Class 4A power Jacksonville Bolles, 35-7.
What’s more, the Colts have earned state playoff berths in each of the past eight seasons, giving their players a much heavier dose of the postseason than any Falcon. Still, for now, Fivay players are content with enjoying the moment and knowing it’s often the teams playing the best football an the most opportune time that earn postseason success.
And maybe it’s also the ones whose outcome was possibly predetermined.
“It was meant to be,” Degen said, “because I really think God wanted us to be in the playoffs. When you look at the way we came back against [Zephyrhills] and how we’ve all come together as a team, I really think that He wanted us to be here. We’re a young team, but we’ve got our foot on the gas pedal and we’re not letting up the rest of the way.”
See the Story online here: Fivay Celebrates First Playoff Berth