JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The first full week of high school football is here.
After a light slate of games last week, football cranks up in full force this week, with a full schedule and a load of marquee games to choose from.
A few things to note.
Check the game that you plan on going to. There are capacity restrictions at stadiums. For example, all St. Johns County teams who host games are capped at 600 fans.
Check that you can actually purchase tickets at the gate if you haven’t already purchased them online. Many schools are doing digital-only ticket sales this year.
A PIGSKIN SIX-PACK
Six games to watch in Week 2. All games Friday at 7 p.m. unless indicated
Englewood at Jackson, Thursday, 6 p.m.: This normally wouldn’t be a game that gets more than a passing glance, but it does this week. That’s because it’s the first public school game in Duval County after what felt like a year of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both coaches here are first-time varsity coaches (Zachary Harbison at Englewood and Christopher Foy at Jackson). The Rams are coming off of a 2-8 season. The Tigers have won back-to-back games in this series and are expecting a bounceback season after struggling to maintain momentum after missing out on the state playoffs in 2018 by a coin flip. More importantly, this game serves as something bigger — football is back.
Bartram Trail at Creekside: One of the few rivalry games of the true opening week of games matches the Super 10 No. 1 Bears against the neighboring Knights. Creekside has won just one game in this series since opening in 2008, notching a 37-24 win in 2014, a victory that sent the three-win Knights to the postseason and kept the six-win Bears home. These games have often been Bartram blowouts, but could that change this year? The Bears are loaded with talent, perhaps the best that they’ve had in their 21 seasons. QBs Santino Marucci and Brody Davis give Bartram talent and depth. RB A.J. Jones is a bottle rocket. Creekside feels like it has been ascending and this gives the Knights their most difficult test of the season right out of the gate. WR Jack Goodrich was a catch machine last season and QB Daniel Plummer is poised for a good season. LB Tucker Owens is the leader on defense.
Bolles at Trinity Christian, 7:30 p.m.: This is usually the game to set your calendar by. This rivalry was controlled early by Bolles (wins in 1997, ’98, ’99 regular season and 2000). The Conquerors won a 1999 playoff game. When they were paired in the same district in 2017, it reignited a dormant rivalry. Trinity has won the last four meetings on the field (the 2017 regular season win was later changed to a forfeit), with the 2017 playoff game a two-OT thriller. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 2 in the News4Jax Super 10, played for a championship last year when no one expected them to. A chunk of that squad returns, with TE Justin Cayenne, WR Davis Ellis, RB Kade Frew, ATH Caden Fordham, LB Mack Marrone and DL Hayden Schwartz headlining the returnee group. Gunner Boree shifts from receiver to QB. Trinity isn’t as experienced on the defensive side of the ball as it was a year ago, but it counters with pockets of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. WR Marcus Burke may be the area’s top wideout. RB Treyaun Webb is back after missing the bulk of 2019 injured. Ditto that for QB Ja’Cory Jordan. OL Austin Barber is a monster on the line and one of the area’s top trench players. With two excellent coaching staffs, this has the makings of an instant classic.
Mandarin at Atlantic Coast, 6 p.m.: The Mustangs beat the Stingrays in the Bold City Showcase last year and will look to stretch their winning streak in this series to six games. Atlantic Coast last beat Mandarin in 2014. Is there reason to believe that streak could end this year? QB Ridge Jacobs and WR Patrick Bryant II are two big reasons why the Stingrays have a shot. Bryant was a first-team All-News4Jax selection as a junior. He and WR Malcolm Seaborn give Jacobs experienced targets to get the ball to. Can the Stingrays stop Mandarin? Atlantic Coast held teams last year under 28 points just once. The Mustangs have a new starting QB in Tre Lawrence, who spent two seasons backing up Carson Beck and now gets his shot under center. The receivers are strong, with Tristen Riley and Jaylen Smith leading the way.
Parker at Fletcher, 6 p.m.: This should be a coming-of-age game for the Braves, who had a remarkable 2019 season that included the first district championship and first playoff trip since 2000, and first season above .500 since 2008. As impressive as Year 2 under coach Char-ron Dorsey was, having that success against higher quality programs is imperative in the building process. Since 1997, Parker has gone 2-16 against Fletcher (a 21-14 win in ’97 and a 35-30 win in 2006) and has managed to stay within eight points of the Senators just three times in that span. The roster this season suggests that things may be changing. Parker is experienced on the defensive side of the ball, with DL Demetri McDougal and S Darrell Bryant both back. They’ll have their hands full against the Senators, who return News4Jax offensive player of the year Myles Montgomery and a very talented offensive line.
Westside at Baldwin, 6 p.m.: Another excellent opening game. Baldwin controlled this one last year, winning 24-7 and handing the Wolverines one of just two regular season losses. Baldwin took a step forward last season and should be able to build off of that in a big way. There are returnees aplenty there, including QB Bryce Tompkins, who leads the offense. The big experience comes on the defensive front, with both defensive ends, Carl Nesmith and Tyson McClendon, and DT Dale Walker all returning. Westside is also poised to build off of a stellar 2019. Back is QB D.J. Otis, who could push his way into the conversation as the best in the Gateway Conference. Transfer Christopher Johnson was a playmaker at Ribault on both sides of the ball (TE/DE) and he should thrive with the Wolverines.
WEEK 2 SCHEDULE
Note: Records not listed if teams have not played yet
Thursday, Sept. 10
Englewood at Jackson, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 11
Baker County (1-0) at Orange Park
Bartram Trail at Creekside
Bolles at Trinity Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Cedar Creek Christian (0-1) at Ocala St. John Lutheran
Crescent City at The Villages
Dixie County at Union County, 7:30 p.m.
Eagle’s View (1-0) at Christ’s Church (1-0)
Episcopal at Bishop Kenny
Fernandina Beach (0-1) at Interlachen
First Coast at Ribault, 6 p.m.
Hilliard (1-0) at Paxon, 6 p.m.
Joshua Christian at St. Johns CD (0-1), canceled
Keystone Heights at Bradford (0-1), 7:30 p.m.
Mandarin at Atlantic Coast, 6 p.m.
NFEI at Williston (0-1)
Oakleaf at Buchholz
Palatka (0-1) at Fleming Island, 7:30 p.m.
Parker at Fletcher, 6 p.m.
Ponte Vedra at Nease
Providence at Stanton, 6 p.m.
Raines at Venice (0-1), 7:30 p.m.
Rocky Bayou Christian at Bishop Snyder (0-1)
St. Augustine at Middleburg
Suwannee at Hamilton County, 7:30 p.m.
University Christian at Clay
Westside at Baldwin, 6 p.m.
White at Menendez
Wildwood (0-1) at St. Joseph
Wolfson at Ridgeview
Yulee at West Nassau
Zarephath Academy (0-1) at Hawthorne (1-0)
OFF: Columbia, Flagler Palm Coast, Fort White, Joshua Christian, Lee, Matanzas, Sandalwood.
Friday, Sept. 11
Glynn Academy (1-0) at Camden County (0-1), 7:30 p.m.
McIntosh County Academy (0-1) at Brunswick (0-1), 7:30 p.m.
Richmond Hill (1-0) at Ware County (1-0), 7:30 p.m.
Wayne County (1-0) at Pierce County (1-0), 7:30 p.m.
OFF: Charlton County (1-0).