Pahokee to play for state title

PAHOKEE – Pahokee has one more game to win in the school’s bid for the Class 1A state title.
Thursday the Blue Devils travel to Orlando to meet the Baker Gators, (13-0), in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Baker, coached by Matt Brunson, has defeated Cottondale 56-6, Graceville 21-14, and Blountstown 29-10 to reach the state championship game after a perfect (10-0) regular season. They are the District 1A-1 Champions.
The Gators are led by quarterback Kalee Ciurleo who has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,137 yards and 17 touchdowns this year. Junior McLaughlin has rushed for 1,101 yards, an average of 7.8 yards per carry, and 14 touchdowns. He has caught 13 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
Other offensive threats include running back Jalen Ciurleo who has 1,155 yards rushing for 12 touchdowns, and Jaysen Moore had 526 yards and eight touchdowns. Moore has caught 27 passes for 470 yards and five scores. Wide receiver Derek Peoples has 17 receptions for 376 yards and five touchdowns.
Pahokee will counter with the strong passing of quarterback Tyrone Smith, wide receivers Adarius Dent and Tyler Gilbert, tight end Zatavian Morgan, and running back Rodney McKay who has rushed for over 1,200 yards on the season.
Pahokee Coach Orson Walkes said the team remains excited about the opportunity. He noted they had a week to celebrate and now have realized that they still have work to do and have gotten back to business.
“We scaled back practice and hitting for a few days. We did a lot of lifting weights and running. We will make sure there is no rust. We also did a lot of film study to recognize what Baker will try to do.”
Walkes said the Gators run the triple option. They have the ability to throw or run the football based on their statistics this year.
He said his defense will have to play assignment football and be disciplined in the title game.
“We have to tighten the bolts a bit. I don’t think they are going to change what they do and we aren’t going to change what we do,” he added.
He said Baker shows a basic (3-4) defense and are physical and athletic.
He said the week off might be a blessing as it gave his team a physical break that they needed after 13 touch games.
He also expects a lot of support from the Pahokee faithful.
“There will be a big turnout and a lot of support from the entire community, we appreciate all our fans,” he added.
The game will be played Thursday, Dec. 8 at 1 pm at the Citrus Bowl located at 287 S Tampa Avenue in Orlando. The tickets cost $15 at the gate and parking costs $10.

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