Football

New Team in Town: Meet the Orlando Apollos

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Have you noticed that there have been spring football games on TV this year? Our desire to see gridiron action all year round is finally coming true thanks to the brand new AAF, and we are in a prime spot to witness this new league with nearby Orlando getting one of the eight inaugural franchises.  

If you are a football lover that is looking for a team to root for this spring, the Orlando Apollos are interested in giving you that opportunity. And it looks like they are going to end up being pretty good, so we will have lots to root for here at the Tiki Bar.

What is the AAF? 

The AAF is the American Alliance of Football, and it was founded by television producer Charlie Ebersol and former NFL executive Bill Polian. Former players Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, and Justin Tuck are also heavily involved in the new league, which officially kicked off on February 9 of this year.  

While it was initially conceived as a competitor to the NFL, much like the XFL positioned itself, the AAF has since evolved to see itself as a minor league for the NFL. There have already been discussions about the NFL loaning out some of its younger players to the AAF in hopes of developing them faster.  

Do I Know Any Apollos? 

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The brand new AAF wanted to make a big splash when they announced that the Orlando Apollos would be their first franchise, and they did that in April of 2018 by unveiling that Florida legend Steve Spurrier would be their first head coach.  

That's right, the "old ball coach" is back in business.  

In addition to Spurrier, football fans will certainly recognize names like Bob Sanders, Donnie Abraham, and Lito Sheppard coaching on the defensive side of the ball.  

When it comes to the players in the huddle for the Apollos, quarterback Garett Gilbert has been lighting up the scoreboard throwing to his favorite target, Charles Johnson. And then there is the running back tandem of D'Ernest Johnson and De'Veon Smith churning up yardage on the ground.  

Are They Any Good? 

With only one loss in their first six games, the Orlando Apollos are already the class of the AAF. That means that they are well on their way to making an appearance in the four-team playoff set to happen this April.  

The Apollos offense has proven to be the best in the league thus far, and the defense is currently ranked as the second-best unit in terms of yards allowed.  

When Can I See Them? 

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The Apollos are scheduled to host their final two games of the inaugural season at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 13. The April 6 contest will be against the San Diego Fleet, then the April 13 regular season finally will take place against the second place Birmingham Iron.  

Following the regular season, there will be a four-team playoff starting on Sunday, April 21 and concluding with a championship game on Sunday, April 27. And unless something goes terribly wrong in the next four weeks, Coach Spurrier should have his team in the hunt for the first ever AAF title.  

Not only are we blessed to have a new football team competing right down the road in Orlando, we are also fortunate that the team is playing extremely well to start the season. If you are looking for a fun weekend activity to keep you busy over the next few weeks, start following the Apollos and get excited about the AAF!

February Activities and Events at the Villages of Citrus Hills

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Between Groundhog's Day, the Super Bowl, and Valentine's Day, the month of February is already filled with all kinds of exciting events, but we are adding even more fun to the mix this month here at the Villages of Citrus Hills.  

In addition to those standard holiday events, we are also filling up our calendar with all kinds of social events, competitive sports, and great dinner specials. Let's take a look at some of the biggest things happening around the community in the month of February.  

Social Events

If you have been thinking about getting involved in one of the many Activity Clubs that meet all over the Villages of Citrus Hills you will definitely want to attend the Activity Club Showcase in the Activity Center Auditorium on Sunday, February 3 starting at 1 pm. More than 50 of our most popular clubs will be set up there discussing the things that their members are passionate about.  

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Lunch & Learn will be back on Tuesday, February 5 with Sabrina Watson talking about the basics of essential oils and how you can use them for health support, food flavoring, and aromatherapy. Lunch for this event will include a BLT with Avocado in a wrap and Potato Salad.  

The meal will be much more substantial when the Shabbat Dinner Club meets in the Garden Room on Friday, February 8 starting at 5:30 pm. This meal will feature Sliced Sirloin and Broiled Salmon along with Garden Salad, Parsley Steamed Red Bliss Potatoes, Glazed Baby Carrots, and Cake.  

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The most hysterical dinner in February will almost certainly be the Comedy Dinner Show featuring Sonya White in the Hampton Room on Tuesday, February 12. Dinner for this event will include Boursin-Stuffed Chicken and Sliced Sirloin in Mushroom Sauce with a laugh-out-loud comedy show to follow.  

Mah Jongg players won't want to miss the Mah Jongg Madness Tournament in the Activity Center Card Room on the morning of Tuesday, February 19. Signups for this event are already open, and seating is limited to 13 tables of four.  

Tuesday, February 19 will also be the date for this month's Tasty Trivia Tuesday in the Hampton Room. The theme this month is "science" and the menu will include Pot Roast and Chicken Maryland.  

Golf & Tennis 

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Golfers can celebrate Valentine's Day on Groundhog Day at the Citrus Hills Valentine's Open on Saturday, February 2. This fun tournament will kick off on The Meadows Course at 8:30 am and entries will include drinks and lunch.  

Following the Valentine's Open, the competition is instantly going to heat up with the Skyview Men's Senior, Super Senior, Legends, and Super Legends Tournament on February 4 and 5. That will then be followed by the 2019 Citrus Hills Men's Club Championship on February 14 and 15.  

Of course, if you aren't quite ready to be taking on the best golfers in our community, you might want to think about joining the "Newbie" Nine-Hole Golf League that plays every Thursday or attending one of PGA Teaching Professional Mary Slinkard's Free Golf Clinics this month.  

Anyone looking to get involved in the Skyview Tennis Center community this month can learn more about everything that happens there by participating in the Free Beginner Tennis Clinic on Tuesday, February 12 at 11 am. You don't even need to own a racket in order to come play! 

Dinner Specials 

The dinner specials are going to revolve around the major holidays this month, and that is going to start off with the Groundhog Day Specials running all day at Skyview Restaurant on Saturday, February 2. If the groundhog sees his shadow, the special will be 2 for 1 drinks. And if he doesn't see his shadow, all bar menu appetizers will be buy one, get one half off! 

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Things will be even wilder at the Tiki Bar this weekend as they host their annual Super Bowl Party on Sunday, February 3. They'll have the big game on all of their TVs and are planning a fun tailgate menu that they will be serving from 3 pm to 8 pm.  

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If you are looking for a special meal on Valentine's Day, you will have plenty of options to choose from between Skyview Restaurant and The Grille. Skyview Restaurant will be serving an elegant meal for two that will be accompanied by live jazz music, and The Grille is planning a fancy a la carte menu with live entertainment by Jack Dempsey.  

BellaVita Spa 

Still looking for more ways to fill up your February calendar? Make sure that you find time to stop by BellaVita Spa for the Facial Spa Special and the February Bouquet Massage that they are going to be featuring this month.  

Between all of the fun social events, the competitive golf tournaments, and the holiday-themed dinner specials, this is going to be a busy month here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. We can’t wait to see you enjoying these activities and events!

Florida College Football Preview

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As we count down the days until this summer heat cools off a bit, it is only natural to start thinking about the upcoming football season. There is always a lot of great college football being played all over the state of Florida.

To help get you ready for the upcoming season, we put together a quick breakdown of the five major college teams that make their home in the Sunshine State. And if you are looking for an excuse to plan a day trip, we have also highlighted all of the biggest matchups coming to Florida this year.

Miami Hurricanes

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The Miami Hurricanes and their famous "turnover chain" were the class of the Florida teams in 2017. Head coach Mark Richt had them playing way above anyone's expectations before falling to Clemson in the ACC title game.

This year, we can expect to see the same aggressive defense from the Hurricanes. The big question is whether Richt will stick with Malik Rosier at quarterback or make a move to one of the three extremely talented freshmen on his roster.

 

If you are looking for a reason to visit Miami, the Hurricanes will be hosting LSU, North Carolina, and Florida State early in the year. Then, Duke and Pitt will both be coming to town in November.

Florida State Seminoles

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The Florida State Seminoles rolled into the 2017 season with lofty expectations, but things fell apart in a hurry when quarterback Deondre Francois went down with a knee injury in the first game of the year. After stumbling through the rest of the season and posting a 7-6 record, head coach Jimbo Fisher took a lucrative offer to jump ship and move to Texas A&M.

 

That means that the major story of 2018 in Tallahassee is going to be whether new head coach Willie Taggart can turn this program around before things get any worse. With impressive talent across the board and an entirely new coaching staff, Taggart is a safe bet to do just that. Look for him to lean on his impressive young running backs early in the year.

The Seminoles kick off their season hosting Virginia Tech on Labor Day Weekend. They will also be hosting big games against Clemson, Boston College, and Florida later in the year.

Florida Gators

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There was also a head coaching change in Gainesville this year, and the Florida faithful were happy to welcome back former Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen as the head of their program. Mullen was at the helm of the offense during the glory days when Tim Tebow was lighting up the SEC, and he expects the Gators attack to return to that level of prominence this year.

 

 

While there is plenty of talent for Mullen to work with on the offensive side of the ball, Florida has some glaring red flags on defense. Look for that to be the issue on early road trips to Tennessee and Mississippi State. Later in the season, the Gators will be hosting big games against LSU, Georgia, Missouri, and South Carolina. 

CF Knights

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The UCF Knights went on a magical run in 2017 that culminated with them taking down a solid Auburn team in the Peach Bowl. However, the loss of head coach Scott Frost has left this program with more questions than answers heading into 2018.

New head coach Josh Heupel believes that his Knights will be even more explosive this year, and home games against Pitt, Temple, and Navy all make for a great reason to spend a weekend in Orlando.

 

 

South Florida Bulls

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2018 will be the second year at USF for head coach Charlie Strong, and he expects to see continued improvement implementing his style of offense, which focuses on the running game. The Bulls were in the top ten in the nation in rushing last season, but replacing offensive players like D'Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice, as well as quarterback Quinton Flowers, is going to be a difficult task.

 

The biggest games of the year for the Bulls will be an early matchup hosting Georgia Tech and the regular season finale against UCF, but we will also see East Carolina, UConn, and Tulane make their way down to Tampa for games this year.

There is nothing quite like seeing a college football game in person, and with five talented teams taking the field in Florida this year, there are going to be great games happening almost every weekend. Get out your calendar and start planning your next weekend getaway before those tickets get too expensive!