JACKSONVILLE, FLA - Week 2 of high school football is in the books and I'll throw out a few thoughts on the week in a Snaps notebook following games.
* The quarterbacks accounted for 13 touchdowns. A receiver had three touchdowns — in the fourth quarter. Another wideout had 260 yards and four TDs. There were six ties or lead changes in the final 12 minutes.
Welcome to Nease-Creekside, a 58-51 shootout that saw the Knights roar back and stun the Panthers on Friday night. QB Quinn Sieger, a slot receiver last year, tossed the last of his six TDs with 24 seconds to play, hitting Jack Goodrich from 10 yards out to cap off a 44-point second half for Creekside.
I was at the opening half of the Creekside-Nease game on Friday night and it was all Nease. The Panthers were all over Creekside early, up 17-0 by the end of the opening quarter, and teeing off on the Knights defense. Nease QB Joe Nieves opened up the offense with his ability to tuck it and go and the Knights struggled to account for that, and Nieves' ability to pass. He hit Joe Bradshaw for TD passes of 20 and 72 yards in that quarter. Looked like Creekside was in for a long night.
Instead, it was only getting started.
"It was a lot of fun. Both teams were playing so hard. That first half we lacked momentum. …," said Creekside coach Sean McIntyre. "I was hoping they didn't [keep coming back]. Coach [Collin] Drafts had a good foundation there for him with the kids they had returning, and he's really brought a lot to their program.
"I was hoping they would lay down at some point. But when you have two really good-coached teams, you never know what you're going to get on a Friday night. That game could have been 7-6. Friday nights, you just never know."
By halftime, it was 30-14, Nease. Cue the adjustments.
"I told the kids we've got to keep playing," McIntyre said. "Honestly, most of that didn't come from me, it was kids talking to each other. They had some ownership there. Kids were not freaking out, not panicking. That's what made it so special."
McIntyre said the jolt that triggered everything came quickly, a 48-yard punt return for a touchdown by Vincent Approbato. The following quarter and a half was a dazzling display of offense and playmakers slugging it out and refusing to back down.
"Near the end of the half, we started figuring out what they were trying to do defensive-wise," Sieger said. "So my coach and I at half went over everything that we knew would be really good to run and I just told the offense to not step off the petal because I knew we had these guys if we would just win one play at a time.
Creekside would take its first lead of the game early in the fourth on Calhoun's second TD grab of the night and a Sieger two-point run. Nieves added a 6-yard TD and his own two-point run to knot things at 44 with two minutes left.
This madness followed.
Sieger to Goodrich went for an 80-yard TD. Creekside, 51-44.
Twenty seconds later, Nieves to Bradshaw went 80 yards. 51-all.
Then the game-winning drive, a 75-yard trek over four plays that resulted in Sieger's 5-yard strike to Goodrich.
Back to the Knights. Sieger was catching passes from Tai Lavatai last year and saw the game from a different angle as the Knights' slot receiver. Friday night was just his third regular season game at the position, and he stared down a major offensive challenge, on the road, in front of a packed house. He matched Lavatai's school mark of six passing TDs in a game.
"I've learned a lot," Sieger said. "Playing quarterback definitely helps me as a wide receiver, being able to read defenses. Our team this year is special. We're trying to build a football program at Creekside, and I think finally, the players realize what we have and how good we can be if we play as a whole and pick everyone up."
Added McIntyre: "Credit Quinn. He kept a couple drives alive with his legs and made some big throws. Jack and Shane [Calhoun] were products of some of those throws. He really stepped up for his big moments last night.
Nieves had one of the best statistical lines you'll see. According to Ward Clayton, writing for the St. Augustine Record, Nieves amassed 572 total yards (452 passing). He tossed six TDs, four of those to Bradshaw, and ran for another.
• Trinity Christian lost big in Week 1 to Columbia.
With the bulk of its brutal schedule still untouched, losing at Tallahassee Godby in Week 2 was not a game that the Conquerors could afford to lose. The Conquerors and Cougars turned their Thursday game into a sprint, going toe to toe from open to close in a game that went into overtime.
The result, a 45-42 Trinity victory, headlined by two big plays. Corey Coley had an interception on Godby's final drive in regulation, picking it off at the Trinity 1 with 48 seconds left. That essentially got the game into OT. The Conquerors held Godby on four downs and that set the table for kicker Clayton Roerig. He knocked through a 37-yard field goal to win it.
There's a very winnable game in Week 3 at home against Ribault, which I mentioned during the offseason as the least difficult on a brutal schedule. And when I say that the least difficult week on a schedule is a Ribault team that has reached the playoffs four straight seasons and has a rugged defense, even on a bad night, that's something.
* One player to mention in the Trinity game, RB Kyjuan Herndon. The running back rushed for 233 yards on 25 carries and five TDs. Factor in Herndon's team-best 74 yards receiving on three catches and he finished with 307 all-purpose yards and a 10.9 yard per touch average.
* Congrats to University Christian coach David Penland III and his wife, Ciara. They missed UC's Week 2 game at Christ School (North Carolina) for a very good reason. They welcomed their first child, David IV, on Friday.
* Second week in a row that I've seen Sandalwood play and the Saints looked very good running the ball. With an Elite 11 QB in Jeff Sims, that's probably not what you were expecting.
Sandalwood had three rushing TDs in Week 1 against Parker and started out running the ball strong in a Thursday game against Fletcher.
Sims looked much more comfortable (and much more effective) as a runner than passer for six quarters of the season. And then the second half came against Fletcher on Thursday night, where Sims finally found his rhythm through the air. He had his first two passing TDs of the season in the third quarter. What's that mean?
If Sims can keep running like he has (158 yards on the ground against Fletcher, according to the Times-Union's Clayton Freeman), and keeps getting warmer weekly through the air, this team is going to be much more difficult to scheme for.
* Best matchup of Week 2 was Super 10 No. 1 Columbia at No. 3 Oakleaf and it lived up to the advance billing. The final in Orange Park: Columbia 21, Oakleaf 19.
* St. Augustine had been 17-0 against Menendez and hadn't lost to any St. Johns County team in the modern era of football, with the exception of Nease, entering 2018. The wheels fell off in the county last year for the Yellow Jackets, who struggled with injuries and inexperience. A 62-28 loss to Menendez was no doubt the most humbling experience of that season.
I thought that win for the Falcons could have been a bounce to something bigger in the rivalry, but not quite. Not yet. The Yellow Jackets pounded the Falcons 33-13 on Friday night.
* Most surprising 2-0s at this point: Westside and White. I thought the Wolverines would struggle in Week 1 against a veteran Middleburg team. And I saw White get eviscerated in a preseason game by Raines. But the Commanders notched what I thought was a Week 1 upset in a 14-6 win over First Coast.
* Best matchups of Week 3: Creekside (2-0) at Bartram Trail (2-0), Ocala Vanguard (2-0) at Sandalwood (2-0), Westside (2-0) at Baldwin (2-0), Flagler Palm Coast (2-0) at St. Augustine (2-0).
* Mandarin won the Class 8A state title last year and, to me, its most defining game of the regular season came on Sept. 14 at DeLand. Carson Beck engineered an 82-yard scoring drive that ended with a 17-yard TD pass to Darian Oxendine with 24 seconds left in a 24-21 win. That drive is the drive of 2018. A loss there and a state championship likely doesn't happen. Those teams meet in Week 3 at Mandarin.
* Thankfully, it's been a safe start to the 2019 season in the area.
But if you missed it, there was a shooting following a high school football game in Mobile, Ala. on Friday night. After a game between LeFlore and Williamson high schools, gunfire rang out. Multiple media outlets reported 10 teens between the ages of 15 and 18 were shot, and five were critically wounded. The alleged shooter was arrested. He's 17.
It can happen anywhere.
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