Apopka Wins State Championship! Listen to the Radio Broadcast Here

Congratulations to the Apopka Blue Darters, who have now won their 2nd State Championship in the last three years with a 30-23 victory over Columbus on Saturday!

Listen to the archived 1520 WBZW radio broadcast here.

(following story reprinted from the Orlando Sentinel)

Apopka had to overcome miscues, lost momentum and stretches of adversity before willing its way to a championship on Saturday night.

That was a fitting finish for a team that was 5-4 and almost out of the picture as the state football playoffs approached. The Blue Darters, who scored three postseason road wins on the way to the final, again found a way and won 30-23 over Miami Columbus (13-2) in Saturday night’s Class 8A championship game at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl.

CHRIS HAYS / ORLANDO SENTINEL

CHRIS HAYS / ORLANDO SENTINEL

The victory gave Apopka (11-4) two state championships in a span of three seasons and made the Blue Darters the first four-loss team to win the large-class championship in the 52-year history of state playoffs.

“We lost four games in the regular season, but we believed,” Apopka senior Chandler Cox said. “This was the way I wanted to end it.”

Cox had 105 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and also threw for 67 yards and a crucial late score to James Crider.

apk_statechamps04

Stephen M. Dowell / Orlando Sentinel

DeShawn Massey carried 19 times for 108 yards and two TDs and joined Cox and Demetri Burch as 1,000-yard rushers for the year.

Apopka brought the town with it to Orlando. And the town brought a D.J. and a Christmas tree as part of a massive tailgate party that filled up an open field outside the Citrus Bowl hours before kickoff.

Announced attendance was 9,134 — the biggest crowd of this year’s eight finals — with Apopka’s following filling up most of the available seats in an expanded lower-bowl section. Those fans were roaring early as Apopka generated drives that led to TD runs by Massey, a 5-foot-3 sophomore, for an early 14-0 lead.

CHRIS HAYS / ORLANDO SENTINEL

CHRIS HAYS / ORLANDO SENTINEL

But turnovers led to two Columbus scores that cut the deficit to 14-9 and momentum was gone when the Blue Darters left the field at halftime.

Apopka came out and chewed up more than six minutes and 67 yards to bump its lead to 22-6 on a 1-yard TD plunge by Cox on a fourth-and-goal play. Ivey followed Massey and massive tackle Martez Ivey to the line and then leaped over the pileup and into the end zone.

Stephen M. Dowell / Orlando Sentinel

Stephen M. Dowell / Orlando Sentinel

“We didn’t give up on ourselves. We believed every moment,” Ivey said. “When we were 5-4 we believed. We didn’t want to lose again and we made sure we didn’t lose again.”

Columbus rallied behind the passing of Tucker Beirne, who was 24 of 47 passing for 294 yards.

The oft-maligned Blue Darters defense held Columbus to minus-11 yards rushing on nine attempts, a record low for a state final. Apopka got a fourth-down stop with 4:03 remaining, and the Blue Darters were able to run out all but the final 49 seconds before handing the ball back over.

“It doesn’t seem real,” coach Rick Darlington said. “We had to just hang on and the clock finally ran out. What a great blessing. What a great victory.”

bcollings@orlandosentinel.com

Apopka 30, Miami Columbus 23

FIRST — A: Massey 3 run (L’Heureux kick); A: Massey 14 run (L’Heureux kick). SECOND — C: Rollins 11 pass from Beirne (kick blocked); C: Tolgyesi 33 FG. THIRD — A: Cox 1 run (Massey pass from Burch); C: Maloney 11 pass from Beirne (Tolgyesi kick). FOURTH — A: Crider 22 pass from Cox (Burch run); C: Smith 10 pass from Beirne (Tolgyesi kick).

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