By: Wells Dusenbury
Ft. Pierce Central felt confident before the game. The Cobras entered the 7A Regional Finals with a perfect 11-0 record and had given Manatee its closest playoff game a year ago in a narrow 13-10 defeat on the road.
With Central taking on the number one team in the country before a packed home crowd at Lawnwood Stadium, there was plenty of reason for optimism.
Then the game started.
Manatee rolled past the Cobras 51-0 on Friday night, showing everyone why they're deserving that number one ranking.
"Everything that could have went wrong did," said Ft. Pierce Central head coach Josh Shaffer.
The Cobras were manhandled on the offensive line, with the Hurricanes' tenacious front four pressuring quarterback Sam Vaughn all night long.
Defensively, Ft. Pierce Central had no answer for running back Trevon Walters and Mississippi State quarterback commit Cord Sandberg. The Cobras, who have had great line play all season long were rendered useless against the Hurricanes, something that shocked Shaffer.
"I am surprised," said Shaffer of how dominant Manatee was up front. "I'm surprised at the level of all of our play."
Despite the tough playoff exit, it'd be a mistake to forget the season the Cobras put together this year. FPC finished the regular season with a perfect and record and reached the Regional Finals in each of Shaffer's two years as the Cobras head coach.
While the playoff defeat was a humbling one, Shaffer has firmly established Ft. Pierce Central as one of the area's premier teams and they should only continue to get better over time.
Five other thoughts
-After announcing his decision to transfer out of West Virginia, former Treasure Coast standout Travares Copeland hasn't made up his mind yet on where he'll be heading.
His high school head coach Irvin Jones says though that he'll probably stay somewhere in state so he can be close to his family.
Jones added that UCF and FIU could be potential destinations for the wide receiver. Last year, Copeland picked West Virginia over FIU on Signing Day.
Copeland played in three games this season, recording 10 catches for 55 yards.
-Meanwhile, Copeland's former Treasure Coast teammate Justin Williams could be heading to West Virginia as well. Jones says West Virginia is in the top three right now for the talented senior cornerback.
Williams is also considering Michigan State and South Carolina.
-Jupiter Christian's season may be done, but head coach Bill Powers still has one more coaching assignment in front of him. Powers will serve as the head coach of Team Florida in the 18th Annual Nike Florida All-Star Football Game.
Area players such as Boca Raton quarterback Kevin Anderson, Ft. Pierce Central running back Marcus Levy and Atlantic defensive tackle Keith Bryant will take part in the game.
The Nike Florida Football All-Star Game will be played on December 22 at Traz Powell Stadium.
-With Northern Illinois heading to the Orange Bowl to face Florida State, the game will mark the return of a number of area players to south Florida.
Most notable is former Dwyer standout receiver Tommylee Lewis. The sophomore receiver is the team's second leading receiver with 43 catches for 478 yards and 5 touchdowns.
In addition to Lewis, the Huskies also have a pair of Vero Beach alums in freshman defensive back Charles Ivory and freshman wide receiver Charlie Miller.
-Cardinal Newman tight end Matt Burke and Atlantic defensive tackle Keith Bryant were both presented with their U.S. Army All-American jerseys at their respective schools. The two players along with American Heritage running back Greg Bryant will all take part in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The game will take place January 5th in San Antonio, Texas and will air on NBC.
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