Fivay faces tough road in playoff debut
HUDSON - In only its second year as a varsity football program, Fivay is in the Class 5A state playoffs. The consolation prize for reaching the postseason: A trip to vaunted Citra North Marion. The Colts are one of central Florida's top football programs under the guidance of coach Craig Damon, who has led North Marion to its 12th playoff appearance. North Marion has one of the most potent offenses around and is led by running back Jamie Gilmore, who has rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns and passing attack with Florida-commitment Latroy Pittman (21 catches, 399 yards) at wide receiver and USF-commitment Sean Price (22 catches, 424 yards) at tight end.The entire Fivay defense knows it will be up to them to slow down the Colts high-powered rushing and passing attack. "This game is like getting ready for any other big game," Fivay linebacker Brice Sesler said, who leads the team in tackles with 121. "We're not treating this week any different then we have any other week of the season. Game is just as important as anything else. We're going to come together as a team and do what we do and try to come out with a win." Coming out of Citra with a win is much easier said then done as the Colts are nearly unstoppable with scoring points at Stan Toole Memorial Stadium, outscoring opponents 164-17 in only four home games. Among North Marion's big wins was a season-opening win over perennial state-power Ocala Trinity Catholic as the Colts edge the Celtics 23-20. Fivay is now on the big stage in the state playoffs and Fivay coach Chris Taylor has been in a similar situation with playing a state powerhouse when he coached Ridgewood to the 2007 Class 4A postseason only to run up against perennial-power Daytona Beach Seabreeze, a 43-3 loss. Taylor, though, is doing a few things differently this time around and knows this game may be more of learning experience for his young squad as they enter Marion County Friday evening. "(North Marion) is a great football team," Taylor said. "We're going into 'The Lions Den' so to speak. We're going to go in there to compete and try and get better. It's a good experience for the kids and learn the caliber that we need to get to. Preparing for a football game is preparing for a football game and we're going to try and find their weakness. Just so happens, they don't have too many." This game will not just serve as a potential learning curve for the Falcons underclassman but as a final sendoff to the prep football careers of six seniors on Fivay's roster. The team just over a year ago was practicing at Bayonet Point Middle School and the idea of possibly reaching the playoffs were seemingly light years away. Hudson went to the postseason in 1978 and didn't make their second appearance until 2005 and Gulf went more than 70 years without reaching the playoffs until its breakthrough in the 2006 season. For senior linebacker Jordan Wisner, who is second in tackles on the team with 90, knows Friday's game could be the last time he steps on the field but sees the positives in his final season and Fivay's first playoff berth. "It's definitely been an up and down past few weeks," Wisner said. "That win versus Zephyrhills was so emotional, then beating Ridgewood to get into the playoffs and then the letdown last week at Citrus (28-20 loss). But we're just going to go into Friday and play as a team and have fun."