The Hawks feature some of the top players in the area at key positions.

Good luck picking a winner in Friday night's de facto district title game between upstart Flagler Palm Coast and defending champion Spruce Creek. On paper, the two teams, who have a combined 11-0 record this season, just about mirror each other. 

The Hawks (5-0) have outscored opponents 231-26, and won by an average score of 46-5. The Bulldogs (6-0), meanwhile, have outscored their opponents 198-77, and cruised to their six wins by an average score of 33-13. As far as common opponents go, both teams shut out Seabreeze by a combined score of 78-0, while both also took down district-foe Sandalwood with relative ease — although FPC did have to survive a couple late scares.

So what, if anything, is going to separate these two teams Friday night?

"I've known (Spruce Creek) Coach (Andy) Price for a long time now," first-year FPC coach Travis Roland said. "He does such a good job with his offense, and the motions they run and the shifting. He's got a three-year starter at quarterback in Kyle Minckler, so not much is going to confuse him. (Running back) Jacquez Lord is a great football player in his own right, and he does a really good job in both the running game and passing game. And then you have Hayden Flood, who I personally think is one of the best wide receivers around. They've got key guys at every position."

Let's talk about those keys guys for a minute, because, going into their bye week last week, the trio led the area in every major offensive statistical category. 

Minckler, an All-Area signal-caller last year, has thrown for an area-best 981 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, and added nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Lord, meanwhile, came on strong the second half last season and has only gotten better in 2017, rushing for 686 yards, eight touchdowns, and a ridiculous 9.3 yards per carry. The senior has also added 121 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Speaking of receiving, heading into their bye Flood, a junior, led the area with 426 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing the preseason classic and season-opener after breaking his leg in June.

"I believe we're pretty good, I can honestly say that, and I rarely feel that way," Price said of the offense. "I feel like we're good at what we do, and we can do a lot of things. The good part about it is, yeah, I have guys who have played in this system for 2-3 years now, and they understand every piece of what we do and we're then able to to put together a game plan that works out real well for us. I think the best team is going to win Friday night. They think it's them, we think it's us, and however it works out the sun is still coming up on Saturday."

That high-powered offense figures to be put to the test Friday night. Price said that the Bulldog defense is "probably the best" they've seen this season, adding that their ability to play man coverage in the secondary opens up plenty of blitzing opportunities. Under Roland, the former Mainland defensive coordinator, the Bulldogs have been one of the more opportunistic defenses in the area, forcing 18 turnovers already, including Damien Irvin's go-ahead pick-six last week against Deltona.  

"They're way stronger than they were last year, Coach Roland is an amazing defensive coach," Minckler said. "They're really strong, especially their defensive backs and safeties. That program is going to be really good, especially next year. Right now, though, I feel like we should be able to pick them apart."

Roland admitted that staying disciplined, both physically and mentally, will be key Friday night. 

"Guys are going to be going every which way," he added. "If you have the running back, you need to have the running back. If you have the quarterback, you've got to have that quarterback. My thing right now with the kids is, make sure to keep you eyes in the right place and on the appropriate level.

"At the end of the day, football is still football. Yes, there's going to be more people at this game, but, at the same time, it's still the same game they've been playing their whole life. Embrace the fact this is a big game, embrace the fact that these are two undefeated teams, but, at the end of the day, there's still 11 guys on each side, still going to be referees, and there's still going to be first downs and touchdowns. The game of football isn't going to change Friday, and that's been my message to the kids."