The day after a stunning 34-27 road loss to Choctawhatchee, the closing seconds were still a blur for Pace coach Mickey Lindsey.
With 10 seconds left and no timeouts, the Patriots were at the Choctawhatchee goal line, needing a touchdown and an extra point to tie the game. Quarterback Daniel Smyers called his own number, following a convoy of blockers toward the Indians’ end zone.
Smyers thought he scored. So did the Patriots. As did some of the Indians.
But the officials signaled that Smyers was stopped short of the goal line, and the final seconds ticked away to allow Choctaw to escape with the 7-point win over the Patriots in the season opener.
“I can’t say if we scored or not,” Pace coach Mickey Lindsey said. “My coaches said they thought we did. I hadn’t seen it (on film yet).
“It was just a flash, (the final seconds) were all a flash. I’m not going to second-guess it. My players thought they scored. Officials said we didn’t and that’s all we can go by.”
Had the Patriots gotten the touchdown, Lindsey said the coaches already had decided they would have gone for two, instead of trying to tie the game with an extra point.
“We would have gone for two,” Lindsey said. “That much I can tell you. We had decided that.”
Dual-threat Henry emerges for Catholic
Most people look at Catholic quarterback Cody Henry and automatically think pocket passer. There’s no doubt that the 6-2, 215-pounder is comfortable standing in the pocket picking teams apart.
But he’s also pretty comfortable using his legs, as he did repeatedly Friday night in a 45-22 win over the Navarre Raiders.
Henry rushed for 75 yards on 20 carries to go along with his 202 yards and three touchdowns through the air. But it was Henry’s work in moving around the pocket that helped lead to all three of his touchdown passes.
“What Navarre did, was just like they did last year, they drop back their linebackers, so it wasn’t exactly pressure, most of the time I stepped up because I saw green grass,” Henry explained. “It was more of them stepping back and me forcing them to make a decision of whether they would come up and take away the run or stay back and let me run.”
Henry used that to his advantage, connecting on a 59-yard TD pass to Emon Smith on a play where he scrambled out of the pocket, took off to the line of scrimmage and then at the last minute spotted up and fired a missile to a wide open Smith behind the Navarre secondary.
Later in the first quarter, Henry did it again, albeit this time at a shorter distance as he scrambled out to his left and drew the defense up enough to allow Tylan Purifoy to get open for a 4-yard TD.
“On those plays, I was actually thinking about running,” Henry said. “When I see a lot of green in front of me, the instinct is to run, but the receivers kept working and got open.”
Dolphins going into bag of tricks early
After scoring the first TD of the game with 7:44 left to go in the first, Gulf Breeze surprised everyone in the stadium with an onside kick — which they recovered. A few short plays later, the Dolphins completed an 11-yard pass on 3rd-and-goal to put Gulf Breeze up 14-0 with 5:09 to go in the first.
Gulf Breeze coach Chris Nemith said special teams had been practicing the onside kick play since summer practices started.
He hinted the Dolphins might have a few more such tricks.
Navarre offensive line on the mend
The Navarre Raiders entered the season with only one returning starter on the offensive line from last year’s state semifinal unit.
Not only did they lose that starter — Chas Swem — in the kickoff classic, the Raiders also lost another player penciled in as a starter earlier this week.
Considering the Raiders were working with a patchwork offensive line Friday night against Catholic, it was an admirable outing for the youngsters.
“We are young on the line right now and inexperienced,” Navarre coach Jay Walls said. “We did lose a senior and then we had another kid that was supposed to be a starter that has been out for three weeks with a concussion.
“We’re really thin on the O-Line and we’re young. And that’s not a good combination. But I was proud of their effort tonight, certainly.”
Tate’s Douglas proud of effort
It certainly wasn’t the result he was looking for, but Tate coach Ronnie Douglas did find some positives in the Aggies’ 45-3 loss to West Florida High.
Douglas said he felt like his players bought in to what they coaching staff was trying to accomplish, and he sees signs of rebuilding in the program.
“Our guys hung in there, they stayed in there. … Our guys stuck with us, stuck with their coaches,” Douglas said. “We’ve got great, great young men, and I’m just proud of their effort, staying in there. I’m not proud of the outcome, but I’m proud of their effort.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get anything going, and we left our defense on the field too long.”
West Florida gets out of character
It was difficult for the Jaguars not to play their style of offense. A big-play machine out of the spread, West Florida is accustom to making huge gains quickly. Tate High, though, wasn’t giving up the big play on Friday. The Aggies dropped nine men in coverage on nearly every play.
For most of the first half, the strategy worked as Tate was able to limit the Jaguars’ progress and forced an interception.
“I just told them to be patient,” West Florida coach Harry Lees said. “They weren’t giving us the home run, but we kept chipping away, and eventually, we got a break.”
Eventually the Jaguars rolled off 38 unanswered points to pull away.
Bright spot for Escambia offense
The move of speedster Gerold Bright to quarterback already has done wonders for the Escambia Gators’ offense.
With most teams concentrating on stopping Danikeei Hollowell, Bright has the potential with his blazing speed to put up big numbers in 2013. He got a big jump on that Thursday night with touchdown runs of 20 and 75 yards in helping Escambia to a 43-19 win over Legacy (Colo.).
“That’s what he brings to the table for us,” Escambia coach Willie Spears said. “I know if I’m coaching against us, my first thought would be to stop the fullback (Danikeei Hollowell). The problem with doing that is, it opens it up for Gerold to pull it out and get up the field.”
That happened on the Gators’ first play after Legacy had cut the lead to 14-7. Bright faked the dive to Hollowell and kept it around the end for a 75-yard touchdown run.
“He’s never played QB, and last week against West Florida, I took him out of the game and probably shouldn’t have,” Spears said. “He had two turnovers early, and I took him out. This week, I said I would be patient with him and let him stay in there and work through it. And he had a big night for us.”
Aggies’ Jesse Samuel goes down
Tate’s Jesse Samuel left Friday’s game in an ambulance after a big collision during the third quarter on a kickoff.
“We’ve got one very, very special young man who got hurt, Jesse Ray Samuel,” Douglas said. “He blew his knee out, and they’ll have to take care of that.”
Samuel was injured while blocking on the play.
Lee all over the field
West Florida’s Lawrence Lee did everything on Friday night. That’s not unusual on the offensive side of the ball, but Lee also saw plenty of playing time on defense.
The move proved fruitful for the Jaguars as the senior, who is verbally committed to Missouri, broke up several passes and intercepted another that he returned 20 yards for a touchdown.
“When we’re playing a spread team, we’re going to put him there,” Lees said of putting Lee in the defensive backfield. “He’s a heck of an athlete, and when we need him, we’ll put him there — wherever we need him.”