By William Smith
Special from ECB Publishing
The Aucilla Christian Academy Warriors ended their 2011 football season on a high note Friday evening when they overwhelmed nonconference opponent Bronson by a score of 32-6, securing one last victory against former longtime ACA head coach Al Cooksey in his last game before retirement. The victory, which was dubbed “The Omega Bowl”, leaves the Warriors with an overall record of 7-3, which represents Aucilla’s best record in four years.
It was a game which was appropriately dominated by the efforts of the senior class, which played its final game in the blue and gold of Warrior tradition. As the closing seconds ticked away in the high school football careers of those six young men, the entire Aucilla football team rallied around to raise the Omega Bowl trophy high above a poignant scene of happy tears and smiles which represented years of sweat and labor on the gridiron. It didn’t seem to matter that the temperature was below freezing for the fans, coaches, and players as they made memories long after the clock read zero.
Aucilla head coach Colby Roberts commented on the success enjoyed in the game, saying, “This is a night that everyone will remember long after this year is over. For the seniors who played their last game as a Warrior tonight, the outcome is one that they can always look back on and be proud. We didn’t have the sharpest mentality in the first half, but the boys were ready to take control of the game in the third quarter and they took care of their business to send the seniors out with style.”
It was indeed a sloppy first half show for both the offense and defense of the Warriors as the physical battle in the trenches along the line of scrimmage favored the Eagles of Bronson. The Warrior defensive line was often controlled by their Bronson counterparts as the Eagles established a physical running game plan that featured simple fullback rushes into the center of the Warrior formation that consistently gained valuable yardage.
Offensively in the first half, the Warriors missed several scoring opportunities when promising drives ended with costly turnovers or dropped passes that thwarted an otherwise explosive demonstration, leaving the score as an unnecessarily close 12-6 Aucilla advantage at the half.
However, the Warriors arrived with a new sense of focused determination as the third quarter began, serving Bronson with a taste of its own physical brand of football.
Offensively, senior running back Phillip Watt provided his best performance of the season in the second half, constantly gashing the Bronson defense en route to a two touchdown, 145 yard performance while averaging over 11 yards per carry. As a team, Aucilla rushed for its highest total of the season, finishing with 272 yards rushing and four of its five touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Trent Roberts eclipsed the 300 yard passing mark for the second time this season, totaling 306 yards and one touchdown, while throwing three interceptions. Roberts’ arm presented the most electrifying plays of the entire night, connecting on 7 of his passes for gains of at least 20 yards.
Cousins Tyler and Jared Jackson paced the Warriors’ receiving corp with 100 yards each, with junior Jared Jackson scoring the solitary receiving touchdown.
Defensively, Aucilla stymied the Bronson rushing attack in the second half by employing a blitzing linebacker scheme that successfully plugged holes and put an end to the Eagles’ bread-and-butter offensive method.
It was a huge improvement over the scene from the first half, as nearly every defender was involved in bringing the Bronson offense to its knees. Gang tackling became the most useful weapon, as 8 Aucilla defenders recorded at least 6 tackles.
Defensive leaders included: junior linebacker Gus Smyrnios, who finished with 19 total tackles, including 1 ½ for loss; senior defensive tackle Corey Burrus, who totaled 14 tackles to go along with one sack and a tackle for loss; and freshman linebacker Timmy Burrus, who tallied 10 tackles, as well as a sack.
“This was certainly a gritty win for us, and I’m proud that it was the senior class that led us tonight.” said Coach Colby Roberts. “The entire season has been about overcoming adversity, and this game was no exception. Half of the seniors were dealing with painful injuries that would sideline almost anyone else, but they fought through to leave Aucilla as a group of winners. That is the kind of football players that coaches always look for.”