Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Palatka Meeting a Familiar Foe St. Augustine Stiff Regional Test

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Palatka Meeting a Familiar Foe St. Augustine Stiff Regional Test

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread, Times-Union sports writer

Three weeks ago, with a district championship on the line, St. Augustine High's football team knocked off Palatka 21-7. Tonight, the Panthers get another crack at the Yellow Jackets.

This time, even more is on the line.

The winner moves on to a regional championship game next week against either Baker County or Bradford -- the loser stores the pads for the winter.

"To beat Palatka once in a year is asking a lot ," St. Augustine coach Joey Wiles said. "Now you're talking about doing it twice."

Wiles' task is even tougher given that Palatka coach Jim McCool is 14-5 against St. Augustine in his 19 years as Panthers coach. McCool's success against the Yellow Jackets has pulled Palatka ahead in the all-time series, which is the second-longest in the state. The Palatka-St. Augustine rivalry has been played every year since 1922, with the Panthers leading 41-37-3.

Hardee County and Arcadia DeSoto is the oldest, played annually since 1921.

"It goes back an awful long way," McCool said of the series. "We did well in the series when I started in the job, but lately St. Augustine has been tougher on us."

That would be a reference to Wiles, who is 3-3 against Palatka in his sixth year coaching the Yellow Jackets. Wiles has led St. Augustine to district championships the past two seasons, and a 17-3 regular-season record in that span.

"Without a doubt, St. Augustine and Bradford were the toughest teams we faced all season," McCool said. "St. Augustine is very well-coached. They're excellent in the kicking game. They're the kind of team that will move through the playoffs because they do so many things well."

St. Augustine had a much easier time than Palatka in the first round. It beat Lee, 18-0. Palatka came from behind to beat Daytona Seabreeze, 37-30.

PICKS

-- COLUMBIA AT JACKSON -- Columbia PK Thomas Olmsted has a cannon of a leg and with touchbacks should nullify Jackson's dangerous return game. Two of the area's very best coaches -- Jackson's Kevin Sullivan and Columbia's Danny Green -- match wits. Sullivan won in the first round almost entirely with his running game. …

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