Ridaught: Bounce back week

football goalposts

Week one of the high school football season is in the books. 

Well, sort of. 

Weather wreaked havoc throughout the region, forcing a couple of teams to move their game to Saturday, while other teams hope to play their opponent at a later date. 

The biggest challenge in Week #2 for those who did play is trying to avoid going 0-2. 

It’s “bounce back” week for some teams, including some matchups involving winless teams, meaning some teams won’t avoid that fate. 

Columbia (Lake City), which lost at Buchholz, 31-14, last Thursday, travels to Union County (Lake Butler) in a match-up of teams seeking their first win. 

“They’ve (Union Co.) got some good receivers, they’ve got a good quarterback, but those guys have got to play both ways,” said Columbia coach Demetric Jackson. “Whittemore (Buchholz quarterback) didn’t play defense. We’ve just got to build off of this and learn from our mistakes.” 

The host Tigers, who completed an unbeaten regular season last year, lost 33-14 at University Christian (Jacksonville) to drop to 0-1. 

“They were a really good football team for one, hit us with some big plays early and it took us a while to get in a rhythm on offense,” said Union County coach Andrew Thomas. “We needed a wakeup call.” 

Thomas expects a touch matchup on Friday against the visiting Tigers. 

“Columbia is a big, fast football team,” he said. “Playing a much larger school is going to be a really tough task. We are going to have to play with more urgency and play above our heads to have a chance. We will see how hungry our kids are this week.” 

Trenton lost at home to Bell, 20-7, in the debut of new head coach Cameron Porch. 

“You can’t turn the ball over or miss tackles if you want to win games and we didn’t check off either of those boxes,” Porch said. “We are in a situation right now where we are starting multiple eighth and ninth graders on both sides and going through growing pains, so they will grow up and get better but it will take time.” 

Trenton will host Dixie County (Cross City) this Friday with both teams seeking their first victory. The Bears (0-1) lost at Lafayette (Mayo), 22-0, in Brock Canaday’s first game as head coach. 

“The difference in last week’s game was the level of physicality and experience that Lafayette had on us,” Canaday said. “Every week is a learning experience for our team. Everyone is new, we only have one coach and one player that has been in the football program for all four years. It ultimately falls on me for the lack of physical play. I know that our players and staff are ready to keep pushing forward and get us headed into the right direction.”

Any time Dixie County plays Trenton it’s a big deal.

“This community loves to compete against Trenton,” Canaday said. “I believe that in order for us to have a chance to get a win this week we will need to have better play from our box players on both sides. We will need to increase our physicality as a team, and put together a winning effort for the entire game.”

Trenton has lost four in a row in the series to the Bears, including a 48-20 loss in the previous meeting in 2020. 

“We have to check off those first two boxes,” Porch explained. “As young as we are, we can’t hurt ourselves also. We have to be willing to play harder and more physical.” 

Santa Fe (Alachua) had a 27-13 lead at Newberry on Friday. However, the Panthers (1-0) rallied for a 34-27 win with 21 unanswered points. 

“The biggest reason is our lack of experience and depth,” new Santa Fe coach Joe Szymanski explained about the loss. “We beat ourselves with some costly penalties and missed assignments. But our kids fought hard the whole game and we are very proud of how far we have come in such a short time.” 

The Raiders (0-1) will host Lanier County (Lakeland, GA) on Friday. 

“Our coaching staff has to do a better job keeping our kids rotated so we don’t get so gassed by the end of the game,” Szymanski said. “We are trying to rebuild this program one day and one game at a time so we tell our guys that we have to get better every day and if we continue to do that the wins will come.” 

P.K. Yonge, which had its game against Eastside moved to Saturday morning, lost 48-21 to the Rams. 

“There’s quite a few things that led to the loss this Saturday,” Blue Wave head coach Kevin Doelling said. “First and foremost, that’s a vastly improved football team under Coach Hoskins. He was the right man for the job as you can see the enthusiasm and excitement for kids to come out and play football again.” 

Doelling said that excitement showed up on the roster. 

“That leads to depth and in games like ours this weekend when kids are falling out left and right from cramps and exhaustion, having guys able to rotate on and off the field is of the utmost importance,” Doelling said. “We made some mental errors when it comes to our alignment and assignment that made the job easier on them.” 

Up next is a trip to Hawthorne, which defeated Middleburg, 24-7, on the road to move to 1-0. 

“Fixing our mistakes is priority number one,” Doelling said. “If we don’t do that, it doesn’t matter who we play.” 

However, Doelling did explain what it would take to beat a “talented football team like Hawthorne.” 

“All engines must be full go so that means staying or getting healthy comes into play,” he said. “We’ll have to find a way to slow down guys like Jailen Ruth who have the ability to flip a game at any given moment. 

“Finally, setting into the environment will be important as a young team. It’s never easy to play at that stadium so having a cool and calm demeanor will be discussed quite a bit.” 

St. Francis Catholic Academy was hoping to get off to a good start under new head coach James Langham. The Wolves suffered a 49-0 loss on the road this past Friday. 

“Indian Rocks Christian (Largo) is a good football team and they are well-coached,” Langham said. “That being said, it came down to guys not executing the game plan and not being mentally locked in.

“Too many mistakes caused by lacking attention to detail. Still, nothing is not un-fixable and the future is still bright for this program. Just have a short memory and get back to work this week to get better.” 

The Wolves will play their home opener this Friday at 7 p.m. against Santa Fe Catholic (Lakeland). 

“They run a very similar type of offense and defense to what we just faced at Indian Rocks Christian so nothing really from a game plan standpoint needs to change,” Langham said. “Might be some slight expansion of the playbook, but overall we just need to execute the small things every play to give ourselves a shot.” 

“Blocking and tackling fundamentals will be key all week in practice for us and it should show in this Friday’s game. It’s time for us to make our mark and defend our home field with pride, grit, and intensity.” 

Gainesville’s ‘home’ game against Vanguard (Ocala) was moved to Saturday morning at Booster Stadium in Ocala. 

The Knights defeated GHS, 68-0, and handed the Hurricanes their worst loss since Vanguard defeated the ‘Canes by 49 (56-7) at Booster Stadium in 2016. 

The Hurricanes will try and bounce back this Friday when they travel to Bishop Moore (Orlando). 

BronsonRiverside Christian (Trenton)Suwannee (Live Oak), and Fort White are among the area teams who are looking for a win after losing last week. 

Scores from last week and upcoming games: 

Friday, Aug. 26
Anclote (Holiday) 14, Bronson 6
Bradford (Starke) at Baker County (Glen St. Mary) – postponed to Week #7 with Bradford up 21-0 (2nd Qtr.)
Chiefland 47, Crescent City 7
Branford 31, Eagle’s View Academy (Jacksonville) 8
Eastside 48, P.K. Yonge 21 (Saturday)
Georgia Christian (Valdosta, GA) 12, Riverside Christian (Trenton) 12
Hawthorne 24, Middleburg 7
Indian Rocks Christian (Largo) 48, Saint Francis Catholic Academy 0
Oak Hall School 6, St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) 0 – Game ended due to lightning in the 2nd quarter
Flagler Palm Coast 38, Suwannee (Live Oak) 10
Vanguard (Ocala) 68, Gainesville 0 (Sat.) – at Booster Stadium (Ocala)
Bell 20, Trenton 7
Lafayette (Mayo) 22, Dixie County (Cross City) 0
Hamilton County (Jasper) at Williston – postponed (TBD)
Newberry 34, Santa Fe (Alachua) 27
Taylor County (Perry) 22, Fort White 17
University Christian (Jacksonville) 33, Union County (Lake Butler) 14
OFF – Keystone Heights

Thursday, Sept. 1

Keystone Heights at Eastside (Gainesville), 7 p.m.
Riverside Christian (Trenton) at Impact Christian Academy (Jacksonville), 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 2

Baldwin at Bradford (Starke), 7 p.m.
Bell at Wewahitchka, 7 p.m.
Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) at Oak Hall School, 7 p.m.
Countryside Christian at Donahue Catholic (Ave Maria), 7 p.m.
Gainesville at Bishop Moore (Orlando), 7 p.m.
Santa Fe Catholic (Lakeland) at St. Francis Catholic Academy, 7 p.m.
Bronson at Branford, 7:30 p.m.
Columbia (Lake City) at Union County (Lake Butler), 7:30 p.m.
Dixie County (Cross City) at Trenton, 7:30 p.m.
Lanier County (Lakeland) at Santa Fe (Alachua), 7:30 p.m.
Newberry at Fort White, 7:30 p.m.
P.K. Yonge at Hawthorne, 7:30 p.m.
Riverview (Sarasota) at Buchholz, 7:30 p.m.
Suwannee (Live Oak) at Hamilton County (Jasper), 7:30 p.m.
West Oaks Academy (Orlando) at Chiefland, 7:30 p.m.
Williston at Weeki Wachee, 7:30 p.m.

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