ST. JOHNS, Fla. – Craig Sinclair will have plenty of reasons to remember the Friday night his team clinched an undefeated regular season for the first time in school history.
Well, at least two reasons in particular.
It was a sweet Senior Night for Sinclair, the Bartram Trail defensive back. Sinclair recorded his second two-interception game of the season, taking the picks back 29 and 55 yards for touchdowns. Sinclair helped dig a hole for visiting Raines, which never recovered as the Bears rolled into the postseason with a 38-15 victory.
Bartram Trail (10-0) has been playing football for 20 seasons. This was the first time the Bears managed to run the regular-season gauntlet without a blemish on their record.
“It’s just great that’s how we’re going to be remembered,” said Sinclair, an Eastern Kentucky commit. “It’s never going to go away, and nobody’s ever going to take it from us.”
Oh, but Sinclair did the taking away. His first pick came on Raines’ opening drive. He batted the ball high into the air at the 37 because he didn’t believe he could get both hands on it, tracked it at the 29, hauled it in and went in for the score.
His second interception came with Bartram Trail leading 14-0 in the second quarter. Sinclair stepped in front of a pass at the Bears' 45 and didn’t break stride until he hit the end zone.
“The thing that I love about those guys is that they feed off each other, they’re all each others’ biggest fans,” Bears coach Darrell Sutherland said. “As soon as somebody gets the ball, the guys are hauling to try and get in front of them to make a play, make a block for them. You can tell they love each other, and they really care about each other.”
Sinclair might be targeted because Florida recruit, and Sinclair’s best friend, Tre’Vez Johnson plays in the same secondary. But, Sinclair said, that’s fine because it equals more opportunities.
Raines (5-4) now joins Mandarin as the two teams Sinclair has victimized this season with two-interception outings.
He has six picks this season, crediting the defensive line with its pass rush and coaches for getting him into position.
Sinclair’s play made all the difference in the world as far as Vikings coach Deran Wiley was concerned.
“Defense played outstanding for us, but you flip the scoreboard quick with two pick-sixes,” said Wiley, whose team will head into the postseason by virtue of its District 4-5A title. “In essence, you’re talking 17-7, 10-0 going into halftime. You can’t recover from those things a lot of the time.”
Wiley’s defense did play well, holding Bartram Trail to 266 total yards. Kyree Hammond was responsible for Raines’ first points, taking a pick-six of his own back 75 yards at the start of the fourth quarter to trim the Vikings’ deficit to 24-7.
But the Bears had excellent starting field position throughout the game, beginning their drives on average on their own 45.
All three of Bartram Trail’s offensive touchdowns — a 27-yard connection from Chad Dodson to Zach Rhodes and a pair of fourth-quarter scoring runs from A.J. Jones — came on drives that started in Raines territory. The Bears added a 37-yard William Greig field on a possession that began at midfield.
The Vikings made little headway on offense, switching between two quarterbacks — and briefly a third — in hopes of finding a spark. But one 64-yard running play ended a yard too short, when it was ruled Kareem Burke fumbled at the 1 and into the end zone before crossing the plane of the goal line. The Bears recovered to end that threat.
It was only on a pair of passes in the final two minutes of the game that Raines’ offense broke through. Carleton Butler hit Burke on their second 43-yard hookup, and then Butler connected with Dejohn Davis for a 37-yard score.
By then, the celebration was underway on the Bartram Trail side. Undefeated for the first time, a District 1-8A title, a high seed guaranteed next week when the playoffs begin and a sweet sendoff for the seniors.
And, perhaps, a chance to make more school history — if that perfect season continues for five more games, the Bears will have their first football state title.
“I’m just excited,” Sinclair said. “Ten-and-0 my senior year, just a great way to go out. I love everybody on this team. Five more. That’s the plan.”
Bartram Trail 38, Raines 15
Raines, 0, 0, 0, 15 — 15
Bartram Trail, 7, 17, 0, 14 — 38
BT – Craig Sinclair 29 INT return (William Greig kick)
BT – Zach Rhodes 27 pass from Chad Dodson (Greig kick)
BT – Sinclair 55 INT return (Greig kick)
BT – Greig 37 FG
R – Kyree Hammond 75 INT return (Nigel Smith kick)
BT – A.J. Jones 10 run (Greig kick)
BT – Jones 27 run (Greig kick)
R – Dejohn Davis 37 pass from Carleton Butler (Butler run)
Team statistics: R, BT
First downs: 9, 15
Rushes-yards: 34-150, 34-144
Passing: 158, 122
Comp-Att-Int: 9-19-1, 11-19-1
Fumbles-lost: 1-1, 0-0
Penalties-Yards: 9-55, 3-20
RUSHING — R: Kareem Burke 2-70, Smith 16-54, Butler 8-18, Tyreese Smith 2-6, Jaylin Griffin 1-2, Mikih McGhee 1-2, Adrian Williams 4-0. BT: Jones 13-78, Eric Weatherly 7-53, Brody Davis 2-11, Kevon Peebles 2-9, Dodson 7-7, AJ Megas 1-4, Team 2-(-18).
PASSING — R: Butler 7-10-2-112, Williams 2-5-0-46. BT: Dodson 11-19-1-122.
RECEIVING — R: Burke 2-86, Davis 5-71, Griffin 1-1, Smith 1-0. BT: Weatherly 4-39, Rhodes 2-29, Brandon Chim 2-23, Jones 1-13, Jackson Mayer 1-12, Eli Sutherland 1-6.