Just five games.
That's how many playoff victories it takes to win a state championship. But lose one, and your season is finished. The Apopka Blue Darters know this process well.
Apopka had a roller coaster ride of a season. After opening with three straight wins against Ocoee, West Orange, and Dr. Phillips, they suffered two ugly losses to Edgewater and Seminole.
Then, in the second half of the season, Apopka won four of its last five games, including a thrilling 29-28 come-from-behind victory over Wekiva to close out the regular season. The Blue Darters come into the postseason on a two-game winning streak, which was also their best two offensive outputs of the year.
Are they peaking at the right time?
Apopka heads into very familiar territory - the playoffs. For the 24th straight season, the Blue Darters qualified for the postseason. They've also made it to the state finals three of the last four years. And in those four years, Apopka has an astounding 15-4 playoff record (.789 winning percentage). They are 35-12 in the regular season (.744 winning percentage) in the last five years.
Yes, you read that right... Apopka has a higher winning percentage in the playoffs than they do in the regular season!
The Blue Darters finish the regular season with a 7-3 record, exactly where they stood in 2022. All three of those losses were against teams who are now a #1 or #2 seed in the playoffs (Edgewater, Lake Mary, and Seminole).
And speaking of familiarity, Apopka opens its playoff campaign against the Evans Trojans, a team they defeated just three weeks ago. The Trojans were 5-5 on its season and are the #6 seed in District 4M-Region 1. The Blue Darters defeated Evans 33-13 on October 26th - just 15 days ago in Orlando.
It's a dream matchup to start the playoffs, but things will likely get more difficult if they prevail in the first round. The winner of Apopka-Evans faces the winner of Seminole-Hagerty in the second round. The Seminoles, the #2 seed in the region, already beat Apopka 21-3 earlier this season.
Beating Seminole High on the road will be a tough victory, but that's what playoff football is all about - beating great teams one after another. And in the last four years, no one has done it better than the Apopka Blue Darters.