The Lady Pirates’ only two losses came by way of district champion Mainland.
Before the season had begun, few teams took Matanzas seriously. They only won four games last year. But, by their fifth game this year, the Pirates had put everyone on notice that they were no longer an easy win.
Through five games, Matanzas was undefeated and had beaten reigning district champions Seabreeze. Even after dropping a close loss to Mainland, the Pirates went on another five-game win streak, including another win over Seabreeze. They, however, lost a second time to Mainland, this time in the district final on Thursday, May 4, at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
I have to be honest. I was among those who didn’t foresee the program’s transformation. And, while I may give a ton of praise to second-year quarterback Jaida Reddin, a lot of good fortune fell into place, which led to the Pirates’ turnaround.
Blake Hillman, who won three of the last four District 1A-9 championships with Seabreeze, joined the Pirates’ organization as the offensive coordinator. Head coach Dan Toblin credited him for taking Reddin from an athletic player to a next-level quarterback.
The Lady Pirates also picked up top-tier playmaker Miracle Porter, the high school soccer great. Toblin had tried to convince Porter to play for the last three years, but it never happened until this past season. Together, Reddin and Porter were often too much for their opponents. Their offense scored over 240 points.
Seniors Lexi Butler and Zhariah Haire led the Matanzas defense, which gave up a total of 71 points in 12 games (5.9 ppg).
Matanzas will lost Porter, Butler, Haire a few others, but most of the players will be returning. Also, Toblin said students he’s never met will see him in the halls and assure him that they plan to play next year.
It’s not always easy to get back to championship games, but I’ve seen enough to be convinced that Matanzas will only get better from here. Just as the boys have become a team their opponents must worry about, I’m sure the girls’ rivals are spending an extra hour or two at practice, when it’s Matanzas game week.