A district winning streak of nearly 12 years bites the dust. A masterful comeback to win the school’s first district championship in 11 years. A lot of good material from Week 9 to cover in Snaps.
* First up, Nease slays the giant with a 23-20 win over St. Augustine in OT.
For starters, St. Augustine has been kryptonite against teams within its own county, owner of a 70-5 all-time record against the grouping of Nease (29-5), Bartram Trail (17-0), Menendez (15-0), Creekside (5-0) and Ponte Vedra (4-0).
Nease has seldom been relevant against St. Augustine even during its best of seasons.
Its wins in the series came in 1992-93 and then not again until 2006-07. It couldn’t beat the Yellow Jackets in four tries with Tim Tebow running the show, yet came back following Tebow’s final year with an unbelievable 24-21 win on national television in 2006 behind a big back named Zach Tronti and quarterback Ted Stachitas. It replicated the feat in 2007 in a 17-15 win. Fantastic games if you were there and saw them.
The flip side to that – while those were huge, memorable games, they just weren’t district games.
District games have been dominated by St. Augustine for as long as just about any follower of area high school football can remember. You have to go back all the way to a Friday night in 2003 (Oct. 30) against longtime rival Palatka to find the last time St. Augustine lost a district game.
Nease coach Tim Krause was in his junior year at Stetson when the Yellow Jackets took a 44-20 loss to Palatka that night, and certainly not thinking about rebuilding a program that had weathered a school split with the addition of Ponte Vedra, and the lean years that followed. But Krause and his coaching staff have covered so much ground in Year 2 that you have to wonder if Nease isn’t positioned for a run of something special.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of special wins since I’ve been doing this, but this is an all-timer,” Krause said. “The change that we have experienced as a program from last year, we got beat 58-0 last year and they scored on the last play of the game to make it 58-0, just showed how they dominated us from the start to the finish.”
Nease trailed 17-7 with 4 minutes, 39 seconds left and had the ball on its own 20 when the comeback began. What followed was the maturation of an offensive unit in its biggest game of the season and two masterful drives engineered by QB Leighton Alley.
Three big plays on that drive from Alley – a 19-yard pass to Zach Sheffer, a 34-yard pass to Ashton Wood and then an 11-yarder to Sheffer again. Alley polished off the 10-play drive with a 1-yard run to get Nease within 17-14.
The Panthers got the ball back with 2:14 left and backed up on its own 23. Alley again delivered. A 16-yard toss to Reidar Hubbard, a 13-yarder back to Hubbard, an 11-yarder to Sheffer a 20-yarder to Sheffer on third-and-10. Four plays later, Michael Leisle boots a 21-yard field goal to send the game into OT.
That’s about as clutch as it gets for a team that is still learning just how good it can be.
“You control what you can control and compartmentalize all the other stuff,” Krause said. “When everyone around is telling you they’ve won 50 straight [district] games, kids in school or at the gas station saying they almost feel sorry for you for having to play them. If we get over that part, we can do this.”
And they did.
* On the other side of the St. Augustine-Nease game, an unbelievable run of the Yellow Jackets comes to an end. It is a testament to just how dominant Joey Wiles’ teams have been for so long. The 50 consecutive district victories ranks second in area history, and inside the top five in state history. Information on two state streaks provided by the Orlando Sentinel’s Buddy Collings:
57 Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, 1997-2007 (began after loss to Piper in final district game of 1996; ended with 21-16 loss to Cooper City)
54 Fort Meade, 1998-2013 (ended with 39-13 loss at Tampa Catholic in first district game of 2013).
* And as impressed as I am about St. Augustine’s 50 straight district wins, it only enhances the area mark of 91 in a row by Bolles from Nov. 20, 1992 to Oct. 21, 2011. That mark will never be remotely crept up on.
* Mandarin coach Brian Braddock wasn’t as convinced as many were that the Mustangs had a cakewalk to the District 1-8A title after beating Sandalwood last week.
The Mustangs rallied for a 44-41 win over Spruce Creek on Friday night, the winner coming on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Greenlee to Austin Cutlip with 43 seconds to play. The Mustangs preserved the win by recovering a fumble on the Hawks ensuing kickoff on a botched reverse to clinch District 1-8A, the third in school history and first since 2004.
The Mustangs were 3-7 the year before Braddock arrived. A season prior, they were 0-10.
“There’s three groups [that really deserved it]. The community. This is a community that offers such great support and that had dwindled away [over the years], that’s huge for them. And the school. I remember at a game two years ago, I said ‘where’s the crowd?’ Why are they so quiet? Tonight, the place was going berserk. The stands were full. And then these kids.”
Mandarin has been a great story to follow. And sitting 8-0 with a first-round playoff game at home is going to make it an even better one going forward.
* Raines and Bolles in the Graveyard on Oct. 29, probably the most anticipated game of the regular season in quite some time. The Vikings, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A, pounded West Nassau 47-0 on Friday; Bolles waxed Fernandina Beach 54-0. The District 2-4A title is at stake. Can’t wait to see this one featuring the top two teams in the state, more than likely the first of two meetings between these two that the area will be treated to over a four-week span.
* Number watching
4: Area unbeatens remaining (Mandarin, Raines, St. Joseph and Trinity Christian).
5: Winless area teams looking to break double-digit losing streaks: Stanton (29), Arlington Country Day (18), Wolfson (13), Harvest (12) and Jackson (10).
7: Area districts that have been clinched after Friday night.
727: Yards of offense put up by Trinity Christian in a 49-18 smashing of Tallahassee Lincoln on Thursday.
965: Yards rushing for Clay RB Bilal Ally over his last three games. Ally had 229 yards and three TDs in Friday’s 35-6 win over Baker County.
4,377: Days since St. Augustine had lost a district game before Friday’s 23-20 defeat to Nease.
* Week 10’s best bets
1. Bolles (8-1, 3-0) at Raines (8-0, 3-0), District 3-4A, Thursday.*: No questions about it. Best regular season matchup of the season.
2. Oakleaf (7-1, 2-1) at Bartram Trail (5-3, 2-1), District 3-7A*, Friday: Simple math. Winner is in the playoffs, loser is out.
3. Ribault (4-4, 2-1) at Yulee (5-3, 2-1), District 3-5A*, Friday: Winner is in, loser playing for pride in Week 11.
4. Fletcher (5-3, 1-2) at Lee (5-3, 1-2), District 2-7A, Thursday*: Both teams are still alive in playoff race.
5. Palatka (4-4, 3-1) at Clay (5-3, 4-0), District 5-5A*, Friday: Clay has a playoff ticket already. The Panthers don’t, and could miss out entirely with a loss without some help.
6. Sandalwood (6-2, 2-1) at DeLand (2-6, 1-2), District 1-8A*, Friday: Saints would hate to watch a promising season slip away with a loss here.
7. First Coast (2-6, 1-2) at Columbia (7-1, 3-0), District 2-7A, 7:30*, Friday: Buccaneers need a major upset and a lot of help to force a district tiebreaker.
* A district breakdown after Week 9 games and the scenarios we’re looking at.
1) Sandalwood will clinch runner-up spot with win over DeLand on Oct. 30.
2) DeLand will clinch runner-up spot with a win over Sandalwood.
3) A DeLand win over Sandalwood AND a Flagler Palm Coast win over Mandarin would force a shootout between DeLand, FPC and Sandalwood.
1) Atlantic Coast can clinch a district runner-up spot with a Fletcher win over Lee.
2) Lee can clinch a district runner-up spot with a win over Fletcher.
3) If Lee beats Fletcher AND First Coast beats Columbia there would be a three-team shootout between Atlantic Coast, First Coast and Lee.
Champ: Gainesville Buchholz.
Runner-up: Winner of Oakleaf-Bartram Trail game on Oct. 30 is runner-up.
Runner-up: St. Augustine.
Runner-up: The winner from the Yulee-Ribault game on Oct. 30 is runner-up.
Champ: Ponte Vedra.
Runner-up: Bishop Kenny.
1) The winner from the Clay-Palatka game on Oct. 30 is district champ.
2) A Palatka win over Clay means Clay is the runner-up.
3) A Clay win over Palatka AND a Baker County win over Ridgeview AND a Menendez loss to Orange Park would give Baker County the runner-up spot.
4) A Clay win over Palatka AND a Baker County win over Ridgeview AND a Menendez win over Orange Park would put Baker County, Menendez and Palatka in a shootout.
1) The winner from the Raines-Bolles game on Oct. 29 is the champ; loser is runner-up.
1) Santa Fe will win district title with a victory over Keystone Heights on Oct. 30.
2) Bradford will clinch runner-up spot with a win over Interlachen AND a Keystone loss to Santa Fe.
3) A Keystone win over Santa Fe AND a Bradford win over Interlachen would force a three-team shootout between Bradford, Keystone and Santa Fe.
4) A Keystone win over Santa Fe AND a Bradford loss to Interlachen would give Keystone the district title and Santa Fe the runner-up spot.
1) Trinity Christian will clinch the district title with a win over Episcopal on Oct. 29.
2) Providence will clinch the runner-up spot with a win over Duval Charter on Oct. 30 AND a Trinity win over Episcopal.
3) An Episcopal win over Trinity AND a Providence win over Duval Charter would force a shootout between Episcopal, Providence and Trinity.
4) An Episcopal win over Trinity AND a Duval Charter win over Providence would make Episcopal district champ and Trinity runner-up.
Champ: University Christian.
1) A Cedar Creek Christian win over Harvest on Oct. 30 will give Cedar Creek the runner-up spot.
2) A Harvest win over Cedar Creek would force a shootout between Cedar Creek, Eagle’s View and Harvest.
1) Fort White will win the district title with a victory over Hawthorne on Oct. 29.
2) Union County will be the runner-up with a victory over Baldwin AND a Fort White win over Hawthorne.
3) A Hawthorne victory over Fort White AND a Union County victory over Baldwin will force a shootout between Fort White, Hawthorne and Union County.
4) A Hawthorne win over Fort White AND a Baldwin victory over Union County will give Hawthorne the district title and Fort White the runner-up spot.
Week 10 schedule
* Indicates district games
Thursday, Oct. 29
Bolles (8-1, 3-0) at Raines (8-0, 3-0), District 3-4A*
Fletcher (5-3, 1-2) at Lee (5-3, 1-2), District 2-7A*
Episcopal (5-3, 1-1) at Trinity Christian (8-0, 2-0), District 2-3A, 7:30*
Fleming Island (4-4, 1-3) at White (3-5)
Florida Deaf (5-2) at St. Joseph (8-0)
Fort White (6-2, 3-0) at Hawthorne (5-3, 2-1), District 6-1A, 7:30*
Paxon (1-7, 0-3) at Stanton (0-8, 0-3), District 3-5A*
Friday, Oct. 30
Arlington CD (0-6) at Wakulla (7-1), 8:30
Baldwin (3-5, 0-3) at Union County (7-1, 2-1), District 6-1A, 7:30*
Bradford (5-3, 2-1) at Interlachen (1-7, 0-3), 7:30*
Cedar Creek Christian (5-3, 1-1) at Harvest Community (0-8, 0-2), District 2-2A, 7:30*
Creekside (0-8, 0-3) at Gainesville Buchholz (7-1, 3-0), District 3-7A, *
Duval Charter (0-8, 0-2) at Providence (2-6, 1-1), District 2-3A*
Eagle’s View (3-5) at Hilliard (3-5), 7:30
Englewood (5-3, 1-2) at Nease (6-2, 3-0), District 4-6A*
First Coast (2-6, 1-2) at Columbia (7-1, 3-0), District 2-7A, 7:30*
Keystone Heights (6-2, 2-1) at Santa Fe (5-2, 3-0), District 3-4A, 7:30*
Mandarin (8-0, 3-0) at Flagler Palm Coast (3-5, 1-3), District 1-8A*
Menendez (4-4, 2-2) at Orange Park (4-4, 1-3), District 5-5A*
Middleburg (0-8, 0-3) at St. Augustine (7-1, 2-1), District 4-6A*
Oakleaf (7-1, 2-1) at Bartram Trail (5-3, 2-1), District 3-7A*
Ribault (4-4, 2-1) at Yulee (5-3, 2-1), District 3-5A*
Palatka (4-4, 3-1) at Clay (5-3, 4-0), District 5-5A*
Ponte Vedra (6-2, 3-0) at Parker (3-5, 1-2), District 4-5A*
Potter’s House (3-4) at Bishop Snyder (2-6)
Ridgeview (1-7, 0-4) at Baker County (4-4, 2-2), District 5-5A*
Sandalwood (6-2, 2-1) at DeLand (2-6, 1-2), District 1-8A*
University Christian (6-2) at Dixie County (6-2), 7:30
West Nassau (5-3, 1-2) at Jackson (0-8, 0-3), District 2-4A*
Wolfson (0-9, 0-3) at Bishop Kenny (4-4, 2-1), District 4-5A*
Off: Atlantic Coast, Fernandina Beach, Old Plank Christian, Seacoast Christian, Westside.