High school football ‘22: Palatka stays unbeaten; Sandalwood, Jackson roll

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Hurricane Ian-forced nights of delayed high school football was a successful one for numerous area teams.

Palatka kept its perfect season going strong with a 26-21 win over Tocoi Creek, moving to 5-0 on the season in its best start since Jim McCool’s final season in 2003. The Panthers were unbeaten in their first seven games that year. It pushes Palatka alongside Bradford in the District 6-2S standings. Those two teams meet on Oct. 28, a game that likely decides the district champ. The Toros (4-2, 0-1) are behind the leaders now in the district race.

Palatka used a fumble return for a touchdown before halftime to take a 12-7 lead, then overcame a 14-12 deficit with back-to-back scores in the second half to ice it.

Fred Gaines had a touchdown to put Jackson on the board early and added two more in the second half to keep Jackson on a tear in a 21-6 win over Ribault on Tuesday night. Kevin Stokes had a pick six right before half for Ribault (3-3, 0-1) but Gaines and the Tigers (5-1, 1-0) pulled away after the break to give Jackson its longest winning streak since the 2009 season. The Trojans next face Raines (4-1, 0-0) in the Northwest Classic on Saturday. A loss there ends Ribault’s playoff hopes.

Jackson faces Raines on Oct. 28, a game that will decide the District 1-2M title.

Sandalwood used a dominant ground game led by Jordan Bean to thunder past host Nease 51-31 on Tuesday night. The Panthers (1-5) cut the Saints lead to 36-24 late in the third quarter but Sandalwood (2-3) never relented with its punishing ground game and pulled away.

A night earlier, nearly a dozen area teams picked up district victories. Makeup games from Week 6 continue Tuesday and Thursday, with Week 7 regular season games Friday and Saturday.

First Coast beat Englewood 36-6, running its winning streak to four games, its best stretch since an unbeaten regular season in 2014. The Buccaneers (4-1) and Fletcher, which roared back to beat Parker 28-12, are now tied for the top spot in District 1-3M.

Flagler Palm Coast edged Ponte Vedra 20-17 on a walk-off field goal by Chase Magee. The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-0) can win the District 4-4S title outright with a victory over Nease on Oct. 14.

Bradford continued its dominant season, crushing Keystone Heights 38-0 for its first District 6-2S win of the season. The Tornadoes (6-0, 1-0) have allowed just one touchdown all season.

Raines scored 26 points in the second half to snap a halftime tie and beat Riverside 34-14. The Vikings, ranked eighth in the Super 10, move to 4-1. They face rival Ribault in the Northwest Classic on Saturday.

Bolles ended a three-game losing streak with a 45-7 rout of previously unbeaten Episcopal. The Bulldogs (3-3, 1-0) played their third straight game without starting quarterback DJ Moore but had no trouble with the Eagles (4-1, 0-1). District 2-2M will likely come down to a showdown Bolles and rival Bishop Kenny (6-0, 1-0) on Oct. 28. The Crusaders stayed perfect with a 31-0 rout of Wolfson.

Monday’s results

District games indicated by an *

Baker County 42, West Nassau 0*

Bishop Kenny 31, Wolfson 0*

Bolles 45, Episcopal 7*

Bradford 38, Keystone Heights 0*

First Coast 36, Englewood 6*

Flagler Palm Coast 20, Ponte Vedra 17*

Fletcher 28, Parker 12*

Hollis Christian 20, Impact Christian 0

Middleburg 44, Ridgeview 6*

Ocala Trinity Catholic 56, St. Joseph 0*

Raines 34, Riverside 14

St. Augustine 42, Matanzas 7*

Suwannee 38, Taylor County 0*

Tuesday’s results

District games indicated by an *

Jackson 21, Ribault 6*

Palatka 26, Tocoi Creek 21*

Sandalwood 51, Nease 31

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.