Two hours before kickoff is when the emotion of all this really hit Jay Lindsey.
He walked with his Tate High team into the visitors locker room at his prep alma mater, the place where his father has attained so much football coaching fame.
“That’s when you saw on his face that it wasn’t just another game,” Tate senior quarterback Sawyer Smith said.
Sure didn’t end that way, either.
The Aggies jumped to a three-touchdown lead, withstood the best of Pace High’s grit in the third quarter, then stayed in control to beat the Patriots 48-28 at Patriots Stadium in a rare father against son coaching matchup in Florida prep football history.
“Once the game started, I didn’t care who it was. I was trying to win,” said Pace coach Mickey Lindsey, who coached his son when he was a Pace receiver, then mentored him when Jay chose to take his own path into coaching. “But it sure means a lot.
“I’m proud of him. I wanted to beat him like he wanted to beat us. That’s what we do for a living. But I’m proud of him.”
The glow on Mickey Lindsey’s face after the two shared a final hug following the game was a poignant illustration of how proud he was.
The game was thought to be only the fourth time in state high school football history when a father has faced his son. It happened in back to back years (2007-08) when Orlando Edgewater coach Bill Gierke went against his son, Nate, the Ovieda-Hagerty High coach, in district games won by the father.
Another father-son matchup existed as well, but state prep football historians can’t remember another instance.
The game’s backdrop also included the official retirement ceremony for Pace’s Mickey Lindsey, who was joined by Jay and family prior to the game. The elder Lindsey has been the Pace head coach for 25 years. The ceremony included a proclamation read by U.S. Congressman Jeff Miller at midfield.
Lindsey retires after this season ends as the fifth winningest coach in Florida among active prep coaches. His career record is
“It was special. But at same time I know (father) wants to win,” Jay Lindsey said. “He is a stinking competitor. We love each other, but it could not be real mushy-mushy because he is such a stinkin’ competitor. He wants to win as bad as I do.”
The game started off all Tate. The Aggies (5-1) scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and were stopped on downs at the 2 from making it four in a row.
Trailing 28-7, Pace (2-5) got a momentum-swinging, 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ashton Stephens to Ty Oxford with 3.8 seconds left in the half. It became the first of two TD connections between them. It completed a sequence of three TDs by the two teams in the final three minutes.
The Patriots added more suspense when scoring on the first possession of the second half. on a 69-yard run by Anthony Johnson.
“Our kids never quit … Never quit,” Mickey Lindsey said. “We just couldn’t stop them. They’re good.”
Tate’s mettle showed itself on the ensuing possession when Smith completed four consecutive passes and Dee Thompson completed the five play, 67-yard drive with his 16-yard TD run.
Tate then forced an interception and return by Monty Brown to the Patriots 22. On the next play, Smith hit Jake Henry with a touchdown pass and three touchdown lead again.
“The thing that is special about this group and they have done it all year they always have an answer,” Jay Lindsey said. “That is why we have a chance be good and special.”
Pace kept battling. The Patriots drove for a touchdown on a fourth-down pass from Stephens to Oxford.at the 22 with only 19 seconds left. The Patriots then tried an onside kick that Tate’s Jake Henry corralled on a bounce while running and went through a gap en route to a 50-yard TD with three seconds remaining.
“We liked to have won, but you know what, they are pretty good,” said Mickey Lindsey. “We knew that. They are good. I’m proud of Jay and I know he has a long career ahead.”
At Pace High
TATE 48, PACE 28
TATE (5-1) 14—14—14—6—48
PACE (2-5) 0—14—7—7—–28
TATE – Reggie Payne 6 run (kick failed), 8:21
TATE – Dee Thompson 58 run (Alonte Thompson run), 5:34
TATE – Payne 27 pass from Smith (Evan Legassey kick), 11:03S
PACE – Anthony Johnson 32 run (Brett Birmingham kick), 3:18
TATE – Alondo Thompkins 65 run (Legassey kick), 2:56
PACE – Ty Oxford 13 pass from Ashton Stephens (Birmingham kick), 3.1
PACE – Johnson 41 run (Birmingham kick), 10:54
TATE – Thompson 16 run (Legassey kick), 9:58
TATE – Jake Henry 22 pass from Smith (Legassey kick), 9:32
PACE – Oxford 22 pass from Stephens (Birmingham kick) 0:19
TATE – Reid Halfacre 50 kickoff return (kick failed), 0:03