Matanzas Pirates at Flagler Palm Coast Bulldogs
When: Friday, 7:30pm
Where: Flagler Palm Coast High School, Palm Coast (5500 FL-100)
TV: Spectrum Sports (Channel 47 and HD 1147)
Coaches: Matanzas – Robert Ripley (8th, 75-17); Flagler Palm Coast – Travis Roland (1st)
About the matchup: The only two high schools in Flagler County meet up for the 10th annual Potato Bowl in an intense rivalry matchup to start the 2017 season.
Matanzas took last year’s season opening victory over Flagler Palm Coast and parlayed that success into a trip to the playoffs for the first time in school history. Running back Trent Steward will lead an offense that lost 86% of their production from the 2016 team. That squad started the season 5-0 and finished with a 7-3 record. Steward rushed for nearly 400 yards last season. Quarterback Ryan Thomas will take over for Mackenzy Wagner and has targets in Curtis Gray and electric athlete Joey Powell who will look to get more involved in his second year of the program. 6-foot-6 tight end Jacob Miley is a huge target and has gelled well with Thomas early in the season. The Pirates defense returns 8 starters but will need to replace Tulane signee Nick Kubiet and will lean on linebackers Cory Van Dyke, FPC transfer Tylee Austin and two-way starter and Naval Academy commit Devin Matthews.
Travis Roland takes over as a head coach for the first time in his coaching career after spending the last four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Mainland. FPC went 3-6 last season but showed signs of improvement in last week’s Kickoff Classic win against Gainesville Eastside. Quarterback Ryan Freeman, a transfer from Matanzas, won the starting job this spring and will rely on wide receivers Anfernee Brown and C.K. Wilson to move the ball down the field. The Bulldogs defensive unit spent a lot of time on the field last season but Roland is excited with the amount of talent FPC brings this season. Defensive lineman Tyler Irigoyen and Norman Brown have good size and will clear the way for returning starters at linebacker Nelson Paul and Tallin Coates (53 tackles last year). The secondary picked up two big transfers in Dennis Shorter (Mainland) and Damien Irvin (Spruce Creek), who will combine with Marquise Gilbert to form one of the top defensive backfields along the coast.
Three and out:
1. Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas have met in the opening week for the last eight consecutive seasons with FPC winning the first six meetings and Matanzas winning the last two.
2. Flagler Palm Coast is 3-1 at home against Matanzas and has outscored the Pirates 274-85 in the eight meetings.
3. Matanzas has two winning seasons in school history, both of them coming after defeating FPC in the season opener.