Kickoff Classics offer a chance to fine tune

This past Friday night was a dress rehearsal of sorts for area high school football teams. It was a chance to put the pads on and hit someone other than their own teammates.

Plus, it was an opportunity to find out where teams were ahead of their first regular season game this Friday. 

Oak Hall School, which only lost one game last year, defeated Aucilla Christian (Monticello), 28-7, in its preseason game.

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“I felt like we did a lot of great things Friday night,” said Eagles head coach R.J. Fuhr. “Anytime you score 21 points in the first quarter and end the three quarters 28-0 with a very young team, there’s a lot to be happy about and continue to build off of. We have to clean up a few things, but those things are very fixable.” 

Oak Hall will travel to Leesburg (First Academy) this Friday at 7 p.m.

“In order for us to have success this Friday, we have to hydrate better this week,” Fuhr said. “That may seem like a strange thing to say but we had eight kids cramp on Friday and that needs to get better. We have a plan for that.”

Oak Hall football head coach RJ Fuhr

Last year Oak Hall played for an 8-man football state championship, falling to All Saints’ Academy (Winter Haven) in last year’s title game, but this year the Eagles are back to playing 11-man football.

Fuhr said there are a couple of things in particular that they need to work on for this Friday’s game.

“We need to clean up on some false start penalties, the center-quarterback exchanges and fix a couple things in the secondary and we should be fine,” he said.

Hawthorne, last year’s Class 1A state runner-up, defeated Orlando Christian Prep, 28-10, in its preseason game.

“I thought Friday was a good opportunity for us to compete against a quality opponent and not beat up on each other for a change,” said Hawthorne defensive coordinator Dustin Adkins. “Overall, we played with good energy and aggression, but we had too many mistakes and penalties that we have to clean up and that begins in practice. It’s good to get a win but even better to get a chance to watch film and correct our mistakes.”

The Hornets will play a challenging schedule in 2021, including the season opener at home this Friday at 7 p.m. against Class 5A Yulee.

“They are a traditionally rich football program and have athletes across the field,” Adkins said. “These are the games that we need to sharpen us for hopefully a lengthy playoff run. Their defense flies around and makes plays and on offense they have a plethora of skilled playmakers that they like to get the ball to.” 

Hawthorne, which lost to Baker in last year’s state championship game, is loading up the schedule to try and bring home the school’s first-ever football state title.

“Being able to compete against a bigger program with several D1 offered athletes is very exciting for our program and we are eager to kick off the regular season with this home contest,” Adkins said.

Class 1A Dixie County (Cross City) edged Class 5A Eastside, 21-14. 

It was a chance for the Bears to have a “live-action game” after not having a spring game. 

“Seen some things we did well and some things we needed to improve on,” said Dixie County head coach L.B. Cravey. “Young players got to play some and it was good to see what they could do.” 

Dixie County, which has high hopes for this season, will host Class 5A Suwannee (Live Oak) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. 

“Playing four quarters and playing disciplined will be the key to this week’s game,” Cravey said. “We had no live special teams and a running clock in the classic, so we need to be able to play the whole game with energy and be disciplined from the start to finish. Suwannee has a good football team and focusing on our assignment will also be a big part in our success on Friday night.”

Wildwood shut out Newberry, 40-0, in a rematch of last year’s Class 1A state playoff game also won by the Wildcats.

“Great learning experience for us as a team during the kickoff classic,” said Newberry head coach Ed Johnson. “We saw some positives and some things we need to work on. I loved to see our kids fight and compete despite the scoreboard.” 

The Panthers, who are seeking their third straight playoff appearance under Johnson, will travel to Santa Fe (Alachua) this Friday at 7 p.m.

“Keys will be to not beat ourselves and eliminate penalties and blown assignments,” Johnson said. “And to make sure we complete and play with pride for four quarters.” 

Trenton topped Bronson, 35-16, offsetting a big receiving night by the Eagles’ Jesse Williams, who had eight catches, a touchdown, and a 2-point conversion.

Bronson football player Ke'tron Johnson

“We played well at times,” said Bronson head coach Russell Holley. “We made multiple mistakes on special teams that cost us. Our defensive line and offensive line played much better as the game went on.”

Ke’tron Thomas had a monster game with 16 tackles for Bronson, which will travel to Tenoroc (Lakeland) this Friday at 7:30 p.m.

“The key going against a 4A school will be to match their physical play,” Holley said. “We have a little rivalry going with them, so being our first game all of that excitement will hopefully carry us.”

Other Kickoff Classic results – Friday, Aug. 20

Buchholz (Gainesville) 32, Zephyrhills Christian 6

Gainesville 18, North Marion (Citra) 13

P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) 8, Trinity Catholic (Ocala) 6 (2 quarters)

P.K. Yonge 16, West Nassau (Callahan) 0

Baker County (Glen St. Mary) 24, Union County (Lake Butler) 10

Bradford (Starke) 25, Santa Fe (Alachua) 5

West Port (Ocala) 28, Williston 0

Middleburg 21, Fort White 0

Lafayette (Mayo) 46, Bell, 0

Chiefland 21, Branford 14

Columbia (Lake City) 6, Vanguard (Ocala) 6 

Friday, Aug. 27 

Newberry at Santa Fe (Alachua), 7 p.m.

P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) at Eastside (Gainesville) – (Citizen’s Field), 7 p.m.

Buchholz (Gainesville) at Trinity Catholic (Ocala), 7 p.m.

Gainesville at Vanguard (Ocala), 7:30 p.m.

Yulee at Hawthorne, 7 p.m.

Franklin County (Eastpoint) at Bell, 7 p.m.

Fort White at Union County (Lake Butler), 7:30 p.m.

Baker County (Glen St. Mary) at Bradford (Starke), 7:30 p.m.

Bronson at Tenoroc (Lakeland), 7:30 p.m.

American Heritage (Delray Beach) at Columbia (Lake City), 7:30 p.m.

Fernandina Beach at Keystone Heights, 7 p.m.

Oak Hall School (Gainesville) at First Academy (Leesburg), 7 p.m.

Indian Rocks Christian (Largo) at Saint Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville), 7 p.m.

Trenton at Jefferson Country (Monticello), 7:30 p.m.

Branford at Williston, 7:30 p.m.

Crescent City at Chiefland, 7:30 p.m.

Suwannee (Live Oak) at Dixie County (Cross City), 7:30 p.m.

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