Poinciana, Celebration, Tohopekaliga all finish with two-win seasons
Harmony will host its first regional playoff game in 11 years Friday when the Longhorns put their nine-game winning streak on the line against the Kathleen Red Devils in a Region 7A-2 quarterfinal at 7:30 p.m.
The Longhorns (9-1) were idle the last week of the regular season and have had two full weeks to prepare for ... well, some playoff opponent, who finally had an identity Sunday in Kathleen (5-4). They were second place in District 7A-6 to Lakeland, and Friday's winner likely gets the No. 1 seeded Dreadnaughts (10-0) in Lakeland next week.
Kathleen was also off last week. Harmony Coach Don Simon said he doesn’t expect his team to have to work off a layoff or knock off rust early in Friday’s game.
“The bye’s not going to be a factor. We didn’t take it easy these last two weeks, we’ve gone at our same pace every day,” he said. “We’ll approach it and prepare the same way as we have any other game this year. The phrase, ‘Take ‘em one game at a time has never been truer than this.”
Oddly enough, Kathleen won four of five road games this season while going 1-3 at home.
“They’re comparable to Gateway or Liberty, big and athletic and can run the ball. It’s a good draw for us,” Simon said.
Harmony’s offense this season attacked in multiple ways. Quarterback Nate Herstich threw for 1,506 yards and 22 touchdowns and ran for another 572 and eight scores. Running back Justin Gleason (154-936-11) will likely become the county’s fourth 1,000-yard rusher this season. Twelve of 6-5 wideout Caeleb Bass’ 37 receptions went for touchdowns.
“I like where we are coming out of the season,” Simon said. “We did a lot of taking was given and attacking.”
Despite making the playoffs in 2013 and ’15 as district runners-up, the Longhorns have not won a playoff game since 2007, when they beat Hudson and Eustis before falling at Citra North Marion in the regional final.