CLEARWATER — Stocked with a wealth of Division I-A commits and prepared by a heavy-duty schedule, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna spent three months building for Friday night's Class 3A state semifinal game.
The Lions played at another level against top-seeded Clearwater Central Catholic, taking about a quarter to warm to the occasion before rolling out a cavalcade of big-play performers who created a 49-3 win.
Next up for the second-seeded Lions (10-2) is West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy in the state final Dec. 9 in Orlando.
"(Chaminade-Madonna) has probably one of the best running backs in the state," Marauders coach Chris Harvey said of Auburn commit Shaun Shivers. "We came into the game thinking we'd try to slow him down. Ultimately we did, other than a few big plays. Big plays are what got us."
Shivers, who had rushed for more than 1,800 yards this season going into the game, was held in check on 15 of his carries. But he ripped off a 76-yard run up the middle of CCC's defense and into the end zone with 1:22 left in the first half to cap a 21-point second quarter for the Lions and give them a 28-3 lead at the half.
The shortest Chaminade-Madonna touchdown play, a third-quarter Thad Franklin run, covered 37 yards as the Lions outgained CCC (11-1) 543 yards to 188.
Junior quarterback Daelen Menard (5 of 9 passing, 208 yards) threw scoring passes to Akeem Hayes (39 yards), Kentucky commit Marvin Alexander (53 yards) and Alabama commit Xavier Williams (73 yards) before flipping a third-quarter outlet pass to Shivers (202 offensive yards) that the senior turned into a 46-yard sprint to the end zone.
The Lions didn't play a Class 3A game until the playoffs, facing five 2017 playoff teams in the regular season, including three (4A Fort Lauderdale University, 5A Plantation American Heritage and 7A Doral Academy) that were still playing as of Friday.
"It just gets us better competing against the best teams in the state during the regular season," Menard said.
Carlton Williams' 67-yard dash on the game's last play wrapped up the scoring.
CCC's lone score came on a 27-yard Preston McDonald field goal in the second quarter. The Marauders were led by QB Rory Hicks (77 passing yards) and running back Johnny Newton (16 carries, 67 yards).
"Our kids played hard," Harvey said. "Offensively and defensively, they did exactly what we asked them to do. We just met a monster (Friday)."