JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They’ve been waiting a year for this game.
When the pandemic wiped out last year’s televised football between Creekside and Ribault, it erased a prime opportunity that doesn’t come along often.
With the game back on this year — the Knights face the Trojans in the second of three games in the W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractor, Inc. Bold City Showcase at Bolles — it was relief.
WATCH LIVE | Bold City Showcase: Ribault vs. Creekside
They face off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised live on WJXT Channel 4 and streamed on News4Jax.com.
Ribault two-way lineman Terrell Shealy said that he was pumped when he found out that the game was really back on this year, with the TV element still part of it.
“Yeah, it’s kind of exciting, you get to put on display for the world, just showing what you can do, honestly,” Stevens said. “I’m trying to make a very great first impression of Ribault coming out of the gate. You don’t want to lose on TV. … losing at all, but losing on TV is definitely a different kind of hurt.”
Unquestionably, it’s a major stage for both teams for different reasons.
Although it has never won a state championship, Ribault isn’t lacking tradition across the athletic spectrum. The Trojans’ girls and boys basketball teams are synonymous with championship pedigree. And the football program is tied for second in the area with 10 players selected by AFL or NFL teams. Coach Marlon White, who is beginning his second season, has spoken at length about bringing that success back to the football field.
Creekside, entering its 14th year of existence, is just beginning to build its tradition. The Knights have etched out their reputation with multiple championships in sports like swimming and cross country but are still seeking to gain traction in football.
Now is as good a time as any to get things started.
One of the biggest regular season wins in program history came last year when the Knights upset area No. 1 Bolles, 31-24, in OT. But that momentum didn’t carry into the state playoffs for the Knights. They were bounced in the opener by Gainesville Buchholz.
The reason to believe things will change this year at Creekside?
Experience. Lots of it.
“We’ve done some great things,” said Creekside receiver Paul Wood. “Everybody’s getting big numbers in the weight room. On and off the field, everybody’s been working hard. It’s a different culture we have, and it’s built around hard work and a good attitude. … We’re going to have a great season.”
The Knights are heavy on veterans, with nearly three dozen seniors on the roster. Coach Sean McIntyre said that he’s glad for the opportunity for all of his players to have the experience of playing on television.
“High school football has become a 365-day-a-year endeavor,” McIntyre said. “And these kids work hard from the first day of January to the last day of December, and we’re excited that our kids get the ability to go out and showcase their talents, their abilities for everybody to see.”
Two years ago, the Trojans played in the 50th Northwest Classic against rival Raines, a game that was televised live on WJXT. That game alone, TV or not, is a big enough stage for Ribault players to not be too overwhelmed on the field.
“Once a year, we have the same kind of hype going around the game except the difference is it’s not this early in the season,” White said. “But they prepared for it. Our kids, surprisingly, they’re not that thrown off by the cameras just yet, but we’ll see what happens when that buzzer hits.”
Last year: 5-5, lost in Region 1-7A play-in game to Gainesville Buchholz, 46-12.
Coach: Sean McIntyre (19-22, fifth season).
Notable: Opened in 2008 alongside Ponte Vedra. RB Preston Strope is the focal point of the Creekside offense. He’s coming off of a 1,351-yard rushing season (21 TDs). Strope has 2,161 career rushing yards and will be among the area’s toughest backs this year. DE Christian Yousefzadeh, an Army commit, blocked four punts and had 34 total tackles last season. He’s the biggest factor on what should be a strong Creekside defensive unit. … McIntyre is the fourth head coach in program history, following Greg Stanton, Jeff Schaum and interim Guy Harris. The school has never had a player selected in the NFL draft, but Rams cornerback Darious Williams has turned into an excellent player in Los Angeles. He is entering his fourth season.
Last year: 3-7, lost in Region 1-5A semifinals to Tallahassee Rickards, 44-26.
Coach: Marlon White (3-7, second season).
Notable: Of the Trojans’ victories last season, two of them came in the state playoffs. White had never been a head coach at the high school level and came to the area from North Carolina. He should feel far more comfortable this season on Winton Drive. … Ribault last played on WJXT Channel 4 in 2019 when the 50th installment of the Northwest Classic against Raines was televised. … The Trojans have had 10 players selected in the NFL and AFL drafts, tied with Columbia for second most by an area school behind Raines (18). LB Zavotray Brown returns to lead an always-tough Trojans defense, alongside fellow backers Khristian Castleberry and Breon Jordan. Offense will be a question mark in the early going as the Trojans search for a playmaker or two to assert themselves. Ribault cranked things up late last season. Can it carry any of that momentum over?