St. Francis Catholic Academy football preview

By Marty Pallman
Twitter – @mpallman

Before Scott McDaniel arrived at Saint Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) as the head football coach in 2015, the Wolves’ program had never advanced to the postseason.

But after a third straight playoff appearance in 2019, the postseason has become a rite of passage for McDaniel and his team.

Now the goal for the Wolves in 2020: Stick around longer and win their first playoff game in program history.

There are plenty of returning starters for St. Francis Catholic in 2020 with eight back on offense and 10 on defense.

“With all but our QB returning from the offensive skill positions, we have a chance to be very productive on that side of the ball,” McDaniel said. “If a solid QB emerges during camp, then we could be an extremely explosive offense.”

Saint Francis only finished with a 3-8 record last season, but that was enough to qualify as the #6 seed in Region 2-2A. The Wolves were eliminated in the 2A regional quarterfinal by rival Oak Hall School (Gainesville) 47-0.

Tyler Stone threw for 12 TD’s and almost 1,500 yards as the Wolves quarterback in 2019, but he has graduated. Junior Riley Brown saw some time as the signal-caller a year ago and will compete for the starting job in 2020 along with senior Trevor Spencer.

Junior running back Levi West is back in the backfield for St. Francis after leading the Wolves in rushing last season with 599 yards and seven touchdowns. Junior Jeck Walker will get carries as well.

Wide receiver Omarion Littles will once again be the top target for whoever the new starting quarterback will be. The junior caught 54 balls for 915 yards with a long catch of 80 yards and five TD’s as a sophomore in 2019.

Littles is a dual threat as he rolled up 40 tackles and a team-high eight interceptions as a defensive back last season.

Spencer and senior tight end Travis Williams will also have an impact in the passing game for the Wolves in 2020.

McDaniel expects big things from the Wolves’ defense with 10 starters returning.

“Defensively we will be much improved with another year of growth,” McDaniel added.

Seniors Tylan Roundtree and Thomas Duarte will anchor both lines and will be joined by newcomers sophomores Dalton Dean and Christian Starke on the offensive and defensive line as well.

Outside of the quarterback position, McDaniel believes depth on the lines will be key heading to fall practice, and the battle for 4th and 5th linemen positions will be ones to watch as well.

Saint Francis will play in Region 2-2A again this year, which was originally to include eight teams, but Oak Hall recently announced they will be playing eight-man football this fall. St. John Lutheran (Ocala), Foundation Academy (Winter Garden), Trinity Christian Academy (Deltona), and Victory Christian Academy (Lakeland) are also in this region again this year.

The Wolves will open the season on August 21 at home against Bronson. They have a three-game homestand in September against Aucilla Christian (Monticello), Munroe (Quincy), and Eagle’s View (Jacksonville), followed by four straight road games in October at Bell, Cocoa Beach, Trinity Christian Academy (Deltona), and St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park).

School: Saint Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville)
2019 record: 3-8 (lost in first round of 2A playoffs)
Coach & year: Scott McDaniel (6th year at Saint Francis/22-29 overall)
Number of returning offensive/defensive starters: 8 offensive; 10 Defensive
Key losses: Tristan McDaniel OL/DL ,Jack Stuckey OL, Tyler Stone QB
Key returning players (Name, position, year): Tylan Roundtree Sr OL/DL, Travis Williams Sr LB/TE, Trevor Spencer Sr WR/QB ,Thomas Duarte Jr OL/DL, Omarion Littles Jr WR/DB, Jeck Walker Jr Ath, Levi West Jr LB/ RB
Key newcomers (Name, position, year): Dalton Dean So OL/DL & Christian Starke are both expected to contribute on OL/DL; Riley Brown is expected to compete at QB
Most important position battles heading into the fall: QB and 4th and 5th linemen
Outlook/expectations: With all but our QB returning from the Offensive skill positions, we have a chance to be very productive on that side of the ball. If a solid QB emerges during camp, then we could be an extremely explosive offense. Defensively we will be much improved with another year of growth. It could lead to a big year and a 4th consecutive playoff appearance.

2020 Football Schedule
Aug. 21 vs. Bronson
Aug. 28 at St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine)
Sept. 4 vs. Aucilla Christian (Monticello)
9/11 vs. Munroe (Quincy)
9/18 vs. Eagle’s View (Jacksonville)
10/2 at Bell
10/9 at Cocoa Beach
10/16 at Trinity Christian Academy (Deltona)
10/23 at St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park)
10/30 vs. Rocky Bayou Christian (Niceville)

Region 2-2A (top six make the playoffs)
Foundation Academy (Winter Garden)
Halifax Academy (Daytona Beach)
Orangewood Christian (Maitland)
Saint Francis Catholic (Gainesville)
St. John Lutheran (Ocala)
Trinity Christian Academy (Deltona)
Victory Christian Academy (Lakeland)