Five straight wins might seem pretty great to most, but Florida High quarterback Ronnie Harrison isn’t happy.
“We can be better. I can be better,” the Seminoles star said following Friday’s 35-18 victory against District 1-4A foe East Gadsden.
“We made a lot of mistakes (Friday night), and it’s got to be cleaned up. But a win’s a win — and we’ll take it.”
Lately, the Seminoles have been taking a lot.
After starting the season 0-2, Florida High has reeled off five wins in a row, capped by Friday’s victory against the Jaguars, who fell behind 21-0 before they could blink thanks to two first-half TD runs from Harrison and a 3-yard scamper into the end zone by running back Andres DeTores.
The win also puts Florida High (5-2, 2-0) in the driver’s seat of the district race and distances itself from East Gadsden, which dropped to 1-1 and has now lost four of its last five games after opening the season 2-1.
“It’s tough. We just need to go back, take a day off and (recover) on the bye week,” Jaguars coach Trace Laing said.
“We’re a young football team and we’re growing. It was just one of those nights.”
Five turnovers forced by Florida High’s defense, including three fumbles and two interceptions of Jaguars quarterback Al Peterson, didn’t help matters.
Harrison even picked off one of those passes during his all-world night, which ended with the junior UNC commit rushing for 67 yards and two scores on 10 carries and going 14-of-16 passing for 170 yards, one TD and one interception.
Harrison was also a perfect 7-for-7 in the second half, including a 27-yard strike to Carlos Williams.
Florida High coach Jarrod Hickman, who called the win and 2-0 start in district “huge,” said his two-way starter never ceases to amaze.
“The interception early is a perfect example of how he’s grown as a player. He kept his composure, came back and made a ton of plays,” Hickman said of Harrison.
“Just another great game for him.”
Harrison had plenty of help.
Running back Jay Robinson rushed for 50 yards and picked off a pass, while receiver Josh Davis finished with eight catches for 81 yards and an 11-yard touchdown.
Jamie Grant had the Seminoles’ other interception and Joey Grant recovered a key fumble early in the second half that thwarted a long East Gadsden drive.
The Jaguars were led by Peterson.
The senior QB almost single-handily kept the East Gadsden in the game with 371 yards through the air and three touchdown passes. The first score was a 43-yard laser to Corey Allyne that pulled the Jags to within 21-6 before intermission, while the second and third went to Kendre James.
James had a monster second half of the game, finishing with four catches for 132 yards after being held to just one catch and seven yards before halftime.
La’Javier Turner led the Jags in rushing with 11 carries for 58 yards and also caught six balls for 70 yards.
But the Jags could never get into a rhythm in the game, which was slowed by 12 injury timeouts and 14 penalties between the two teams.
Hickman told his team afterward that the Seminoles’ turnaround is far from complete. As for spurred it on, the coach didn’t hesitate in his answer.
“Leadership,” he said.
“We started this process back in January, worked hard and came out and stubbed our toe early. But the kids have stayed the course each week and gotten better. We’ve never wavered, and these juniors and seniors are leading the way. Very proud of the kids.”
NFC 52, Agape 6
The North Florida Christian Eagles settled business early against the visiting Agape Christian Saints to roll to an easy win and improve to 6-1.
“We talk to our kids every week about regardless of the opponent, whether it’s a big rivalry or a team that we don’t know quite as much about from out of town, we want to play at a high level every week,” NFC coach Robert Craft said.
“Regardless if its bad weather or if were on the road or at home, we want to play to a high standard every week, so I was proud that’s what our kids did.”
The NFC attack was lead by senior quarterback Justin Moore and junior wide receiver Adrian Hill.
Moore completed 11 of 23 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and also scrambled for a rushing touchdown late in the second quarter to give the Eagles their fourth score of the game.
Hill caught four passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns, but his main contributions came from two lengthy punt returns, one for 30 yards and another for 35 yards.
NFC faces off against Wakulla (6-1) next.
Although fresh off its homecoming win, Craft emphasized the need for a good week of practice.
“We’re going to come out and expect a very physical game,” he said. “We’ll start Monday and really have a game plan ready to go.”
— Patrick Manderfield
Father Lopez 24, Maclay 17
Maclay’s postseason hopes were dashed with a heartbreaking defeat to District 2-3A rival Father Lopez
Maclay (1-6, 0-2) had to battle back late in the fourth quarter down 17-10.
On fourth and goal from the 8-yard line, Marauders’ quarterback Jacob Wright scrambled to his right before running in the game-tying touchdown with 1:10 left to play.
But not to be out down, the Green Wave’s quarterback Joe Boden threw a 66-yard bomb to Ryan Mowen. Boden then bullied his way into the end zone from the 12-yard line for the go-ahead score with just 14 seconds left in the game.
“Hats off to those guys,” Maclay coach Kyler Hall said.
“They made a few more plays than we did down the stretch, but a heck of a game. For us, that was our first time in this type of game, as far as playoff implications. It’s a learning experience for us. Just came up on the short end tonight.”
Maclay scored on its second play from scrimmage as Chase Schaum took a handoff 58 yards for a touchdown. Schaum had 102 yards rushing on just 9 carries.
Matthew Weaver’s 45-yard field goal in the 3rd quarter gave the Marauders a 10-3 lead, but missed opportunities in the red zone would come back to haunt them.
Maclay fumbled on Father Lopez’s 5-yard line early in the first half, and turned the ball over on downs at the 11-yard line late in the third quarter.
The Green Wave’s no huddle offense took its toll on Maclay. The Marauders’ defense surrendered 294 yards of total offense in the second half and 370 yards rushing for the game.
— Max Fay
Taylor County 48, Fernandina Beach 26
Taylor County jumped out to a 34-7 halftime advantage and rolled past Fernandina Beach on the road to improve to 4-3.
Quarterback Daniel Wentworth completed 10 of 14 passed for 168 yards and two touchdowns, while running backs Art Nelson (11-83) and Jermaine Watkins (6-60) combined for 143 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Receiver Moral Stephens had five receptions for 94 yards and a score, while Cam Collins added a 7-yard scoring reception.
Johnny Anderson returned a blocked punt for the winners as well.
Taylor County is at home next week against Lincoln.
Blountstown 14, Chipley 13
The Tigers scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally past Chipley in Districtr 3-1A play and remain undefeated (8-0).
Hunter Jordan accounted for both scores, one on a run and the game-winner on a 69-yard pass to Corin Peterson with 5:12 left in the game.
Bishop Snyder 42, Aucilla Christian 21
Quarterback Austin Biship had 303 passing yards and two touchdowns but it wasn’t enough to lift Aucilla Christian (5-2) past Bishop Snyder.
Brandon Holm had 12 catches for 198 yards and one score, while Casey Demott had a scoring reception.
Cole Schwab led Aucilla Christian’s defens with 14 tackles, while Brandon Holm added 12.
PSJ 28, FAMU DRS 12
It’s a learning process – one that takes time, dedication and hard work.
These are just some of the things FAMU High coach Ira Reynolds tries to instill into his young, determined team following Thursday’s defeat. But it doesn’t get any easier for the Rattlers.
They face North Florida Christian on Nov. 1.
“It’s been tough on some of these guys, but we’re just so young,” Reynolds said.
“We just dropped a game against a good Port St. Joe team on Thursday, but we made plenty of mistakes. It’s all about how you learn from those mistakes, and that’s what I’m trying to get these guys to understand.”
As they head into their game against NFC, the Rattlers will continue to work on the small things. They want to continue to grow as a group and as a program, but it all starts with preparation
“We have a very talented group of kids,” Reynolds said.
“It’s just the little things. These guys grew up winning and they’re used to that, but you have to work even harder at the next level. We need to take advantage of opportunities and eliminate mistakes, especially in the red zone.”
But when building a team or any kind of chemistry on the football field, one thing becomes a must – leadership. And Reynolds says he’s confident in his group and their ability to lead and motivate.
“It’s really something special when you see how some of these kids lead out there,” Reynolds said.
“I’ve been doing this for 26 years and I know one thing, leadership is not something you learn, it’s something you’re born with. A guy like Christopher Jackson who refuses to come out of the game with a sore back, these are the things that will take your team to the next level.”
Reynolds also discussed Jonathan Ferrell and retiring his former player’s jersey.
“Jonathan and his brother were the kind of leaders every coach wants on his football team,” Reynolds said.
– Dustin Tackett