By Donald Taylor
That was quite an opening week to the 2015 season, was it not? It was a week that saw a 21-point underdog in the Newberry Panthers upset the class 4A Santa Fe Raiders in dominating fashion. We also saw a talented Buchholz team make quick work of their cross-town rival Eastside.
Now we’re on to week #2 and, once again, there is no lack of intriguing games on the area docket. Here’s a closer look at our Games of the Week across the area.
BIG SCHOOL GAME OF THE WEEK
First Coast Bucs (7A) @ GHS Purple Hurricanes (6A) (Game at Citizens Field)
Head Coach Marty Lee and his Buccaneers head south to Gainesville to take on a Hurricanes team still smarting from their trip to Lake City on Friday. The Bucs are just hoping that the weather will allow them to play, after having to postpone last week’s opening game due to rain and lightning. GHS is looking for a better defensive effort after giving up 57 points to the Columbia Tigers.
Quarterback Caelan Christian and the GHS offense look to build off their 460 yard output on Friday. They’ll need to cut down on the red zone mistakes which plagued them against the Tigers if they have any hope of pulling off the upset.
Analysis: GHS has a game under their belt and will be able to correct many of the mistakes from last Friday night. The visiting Bucs will be dealing with a team that is battle tested, while they are not. A combination of possible first game jitters and mistakes will allow GHS to hang around with the Bucs. A much improved Hurricane defensive effort, combined with a consistent effort from the offense will lead to the UPSET OF THE WEEK.
Coach T’s Prediction: GHS 30 First Coast 28
SMALL SCHOOL GAME OF THE WEEK
Eastside Rams (5A) @ Newberry Panthers (1A)
A week ago, the Rams were taken apart by a talented Buchholz team in a 48-13 loss. One of the few bright spots was the play of the Rams QB, KJ Minter, whose 67 yard scamper briefly gave the Rams the early lead. Newberry, led by standout RB Jason Franklin’s 73 yards and 2TDs, took control over 4A rival Santa Fe with 21 straight points to open the game.
A stellar defensive effort by Ja’len Parks, Malik Neal and Corey Durden shut down the visiting Raiders for most of the game. Sonic Player of the Game, Monroe Thornton III, provided the final dagger with his late-game interception of Raiders’ QB BJ Williams.
Analysis: Eastside comes into this game against the 1A Panthers with a chip on their shoulders. They feel that they’re a better team than their efforts showed against the Bobcats. They have hope for success in the play of the talented Minter and athlete Josh Brown. Expect the offensive mistakes to be fewer for the Rams as they, undoubtedly, have worked on the shotgun snap that plagued them last week.
The Rams problem this week is how to stop the Newberry rushing attack, led by the Law Firm of Franklin, Jernigan and Washington. I expect these Panthers to quickly sentence the Rams to a night of pain and come away with another convincing victory over a large school opponent.
COACH T’s Prediction: NEWBERRY 34 EASTSIDE 21
BEST OF THE REST
Bell @ Trenton – The “129 War” looks to be an ambush of the Bulldogs this week.
Trenton 48 Bell 14
Suwannee @ Ft. White – Suwannee special teams won’t be an issue in this game. They’ll bounce back against the Indians.
Suwannee 27 Fort White 13
Interlachen @ Hawthorne
Hawthorne is playing their second home game in a row away from home due to field turf concerns. Interlachen is playing its first game of the season. Hawthorne would like a do-over of their first game. This is one of the few winnable games on either team’s schedule. My mind tells me Hawthorne is outmanned…my Heart tells me the Hornets get the job done for Coach Ingram’s first win.
Hawthorne 20 Interlachen 13
St. Josephs Academy @ St. Francis – The Flashes head to Gainesville to take on the struggling Wolves.
St. Josephs 27 St. Francis 12