Friday night is going to be a special for three-star offensive lineman Andrew Datko. Tonight will mark the final high school game of his career and his fourth consecutive opportunity at a state championship. Unlike the previous three shots at the state title when the Raiders fell short, they won't have to face off against Lakeland - this year the opponent is Kissimmee Osceola.
"We are glad to be back here again playing for the state title," Datko told Warchant.com. "They have a pretty good running back that we just have to contain with their offense. Their defense looks like a lot of other defenses we have played. It is a good opportunity for us. We are tired of being the runner-ups."
The game will be played at 7:00 p.m. at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. On their way to going 13-1 on the season, things have gone smoothly for the 6-foot-6, 285-pounder after he suffered a dislocated shoulder in last year's playoffs.
"This season has gone really well," Datko said. "My shoulder has been fine throughout the entire season. Nothing has been bothering me. I feel like I have put up a good season."
Florida State has been in contact with Datko throughout the Raiders' playoff run which included victories over Ely, Dillard, Palm Bay, and Largo.
"Coach (Chuck) Amato came by to see me about three times during the playoffs," Datko said. "Coach Amato was trying to schedule an in-home visit earlier in the playoffs but my parents were both working that day so we have put it off until a later day. I am not sure when that will be."
While Amato has been dropping in on Datko, Rick Trickett has also been in frequent contact. The 'Noles' offensive line coach told Datko that once his season concludes that it's time to begin preparations for his freshman season.
""He has just been telling me that he might have to use me next season," he said. "He wants me working in the weight room a lot just trying to get ahead."
The two have also been talking about what Trickett sees for the incoming offensive line class.
"He has told me that he wants his type of players," Datko said. "I think once we get them it will get the ball rolling. Trickett told me (three) days ago about (David Spurlock)."
With school and football consuming Datko's life in recent months, he is glad to have his commitment out of the way early on in the process. After his FSU commitment, he says most of the other schools have backed off recruiting him down the stretch.
"Schools have backed off," Datko said. "I am very happy about that. No more letters in the mail and no more phone calls except for from FSU so it is pretty good."