By William Smith
Special from ECB Publishing
A swarming, physical defensive mentality once again defined the Warriors of Aucilla Christian Academy as they bludgeoned their way to another victory Friday evening against St. Francis Catholic High by a score of 31-12. The contest, which was played in Gainesville, was the most physically impressive performance to date for a defense that has only allowed an average of 16 points per game, including two shut-outs.
The game was ended with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter due to the physical nature of the contest, further exemplifying the dominant play of a defense that has taken a lead role in the success that Aucilla has enjoyed so far this season, catapulting the Warriors to a record of 4-1.
As with any formidable defensive unit, the Warriors have seized their success through a combination of forcing turnovers and living in the opponents’ offensive backfield, providing a constant disruptive force to rival quarterbacks and achieving effective penetration along the defensive line that has stymied opposing rushing attacks.
Friday night’s game perfectly framed this attacking strategy, as the Warriors forced a total of seven turnovers, including six interceptions. The defensive line also displayed a dominant level of conditioning that allowed for aggressive pressure in the second half, which led to eight sacks and several quarterback pressures.
The second half of the game was when Aucilla truly capitalized on their superior level of conditioning, after a lackluster first half that saw numerous turnovers and mental mistakes that led to a 12-6 lead for the Wolves of St. Francis.
What followed was a much improved Aucilla squad that looked determined to forge a victory from previous mistakes, completing the trifecta of scoring on offense, defense, and even special teams.
The fourth quarter provided the opportunistic Warriors with all of the ammunition that they would need to secure the win. A three-minute stretch of two St Francis possessions led to a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown by junior Jarrod Turner, followed immediately by an interception that was returned for another touchdown by junior Jared Jackson. From that point on, a desperate St. Francis offense failed to move gain any offensive ground as the Warrior pass-rush brought the contest to an early close.
“Our team displayed tremendous heart tonight.” said head coach Colby Roberts. “We didn’t play very well in the first half, but the boys responded well to the coaches’ challenges and took care of business in the second half. I’m proud of the toughness that our team showed.”
Defensive leaders included: Jarrod Turner, who finished the game with eight total tackles, two blocked extra points, and the blocked punt which was returned for a touchdown; Jared Jackson, who had seven tackles to complement two interceptions, one of which was returned for a pivotal score; and Austin Bentley, who had a career performance of three sacks along with six tackles.
The Aucilla offense took a backseat to the defense as the unit was without starting quarterback Trent Roberts. Throughout the first half, many promising Warrior drives were cut short by sloppy turnovers and penalties which left the outcome in doubt.
However, following the break, junior quarterback Hans Sorensen led the offense back to relevancy along with a stout running attack that complemented the attacking defense. Sorensen made several crucial third-down conversions that served to extend scoring drives and eat away valuable clock, finishing the game 10-26 for 138 yards and two interceptions.
he star on offense continues to be Turner, who also serves as a starting running back. Turner rushed for a total of 101 yards on 11 carries, including a 10 yard score in the third quarter. In the past three games, Turner has averaged just over 100 yards and a score, powering the Aucilla offensive attack to an average of 46 points per contest in that span.
The Warriors of Aucilla are now set to face archrival Robert F. Munroe in what is sure to be a physical matchup of bitter opposition this Friday at 7:00 P.M. in Quincy. Both teams prepare all season specifically to dominate the other in what proves each year to be a hotly contested outcome full of emotion and gridiron fireworks.