6A South semifinal
No.2 Ocean Lakes (12-0) at No.1 Oscar Smith (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday
Both undefeated teams got here in different fashion. The Dolphins cruised to a 36-3 victory against Beach rival Cox, while the Tigers needed a fourth-quarter comeback to overtake Grassfield 20-19.
The two clubs met last year in the 6A South Region championship. Ocean Lakes ran away as 49-28 victors.
What you need to know:
The Dolphins held only a 9-0 lead at halftime against Cox, but they outscored the Falcons 27-3 in the second half en route to another win in which they’ve outscored their opponent by 30-plus points, the ninth time they’ve done so in 12 games. Oscar Smith has five wins by 30 or more points, but they’ve also had to squeeze out close wins this season, taking three games by two points or less. Ocean Lakes has won so handily its players have not had a close game in the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see how they respond if Oscar Smith keeps it close late.
Keys for Ocean Lakes:
Even with a hurt achilles, senior running back Khalan Laborn rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns last week against Cox. An extra week to heal should make for a healthier and more dangerous Laborn, who has already tallied six games this season of 190-plus rushing yards. The Dolphins haven’t had trouble balancing their running and passing attack. Laborn’s ground threat opens up a versatile passing game for quarterbacks Kody Cunningham (13 touchdowns) and Tyler DeSue (13 touchdowns) and receivers Jermaine Trotman (12 touchdowns, 595 yards) and Tahj Capehart (six touchdowns, 597 yards).
Ocean Lakes will face the toughest defense it has played all year. The Tigers have allowed an average of only 9.5 points per game and have not given up more than 21. The Dolphins average 53 points a game and have never scored less than 31.
Keys for Oscar Smith:
The Tigers, in turn, have to plan for the stingiest defense they’ve seen all season. Ocean Lakes allows little more than one touchdown (7.5 points) per game. Up front, the Dolphins have recorded 35 sacks, forced 163 tackles for a loss of yards and caused 40 fumbles (recovering 23). Their ball-hawking secondary has 15 interceptions.
Offensively, Oscar Smith relies on quarterback Shon Mitchell and running backs DeAngelo White and Kourtney Johnson. Wide receiver Larry Chapel hauled in a clutch 114 yards in last week’s win. The Tigers will face an aggressive Dolphins defense that thrives off causing turnovers and confusing opposing offenses. Oscar Smith’s scrappy defense must hold its own. A few big stops and turnovers could give the Tigers the momentum they need against a Dolphins team that seemingly hasn’t let that pendulum swing to its opponent’s side all year.