Park Vista needed help to get into the postseason.
Last Friday, the Cobras proved they belonged there by pulling off one of the biggest first-round upsets of the Florida High School Athletic Association state football playoffs.
Seeded No. 8 and playing on the road, Park Vista knocked off top-seeded Miramar 28-20 in a Class 8A regional quarterfinal.
The win lifted the Cobras into Friday’s regional semifinals, where they will play district rival and No. 4 seed Atlantic. The Eagles defeated Plantation 29-14 at home in their first-round game last week.
“We made the plays when it mattered,” Park Vista coach Brian Dodds said of his team’s upset win.
Few gave the Cobras (8-2) a chance against Miramar.
The Patriots, ranked No. 2 in the final regular-season Class 8A Associated Press state poll, entered the game with a record of 9-1 and an eight-game winning streak.
Miramar’s only loss before last Friday was to state-ranked Hollywood-Chaminade Madonna, and the Patriots were coming off a convincing win against powerhouse Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas in their regular-season finale.
“Miramar deserved to be thought of so highly,” Dodds said. “They were big, fast, and had several D-I athletes on the team.”
To counter that, the Cobras entered the game with a goal of controlling the tempo.
Park Vista was successful early on, scoring touchdowns on its first two drives. The first took six minutes to complete, and the second also chewed up time on the clock and resulted in a score.
The Cobras added another touchdown just before halftime to take a 21-14 lead, and then clamped down defensively in the second half.
Park Vista had a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter, and also benefitted from a pass interference penalty as well as a poor punt that led to the Cobras’ final score.
Park Vista closed the game by knocking down a pass at the goal line to secure the win.
“Our goal was to control the tempo of the game as much as possible and stay in the game into the 4th quarter,” Dodds said. “At that point, we would have a shot.”
The Cobras hope to keep the momentum going against fourth-seeded Atlantic (9-1), which has won nine straight games since a season-opening loss to Palm Beach Central, and already has beaten Park Vista this season.
That 10-3 decision Sept. 22 showcased the Eagles’ crushing defense, which is allowing just under 8 points per game.
Dodds recognizes the challenges Park Vista faces Friday, but hopes for another sharp effort from the Cobras.
“Atlantic is similar to Miramar in athleticism,” Dodds said. “They are fast and have several D-I athletes. We have to play a complete game to have a chance.”