Port St. Joe will bring some speed in 2013; Wewahitchka some size.
That was the general verdict last Friday as the two county schools ended 16 days of spring football practice by dominating a Spring Jamboree with Franklin County.
The Gators opened the night with by pounding the ball at Franklin County for 16 minutes to outscore the Seahawks 25-7.
Port St. Joe followed by running through Franklin County during a 28-0 whitewash and the Tiger Sharks finished the night with a touchdown with just over a minute to play to edge Wewahitchka 7-0.
“I thought overall we played pretty well,” said Port St. Joe coach Chuck Gannon. “The effort was there. We got to play a lot of kids. That is what we wanted to see.”
Wewahitchka 25, Franklin County 7
Wewahitchka coach Dennis Kizziah doesn’t keep stats during the spring game, but he is sure Rashard Ranie and the Gators’ running attack did all the damage against the Seahawks.
“I don’t keep stats because this is like training camp, the stats don’t really matter,” Kizziah said. “We played pretty good against Franklin County. We ran the ball and felt like we could do what we wanted on the ground. We might have thrown a pass or two, but we ran it at them.”
What Kizziah saw, however, was what he was hoping for, energy and excitement combined with a bit of success.
“We got a chance to play a lot of kids which is what we wanted to do, give a lot of the younger kids an opportunity,” Kizziah said.
“We have a team that really likes playing together. They are no individuals, it is about the team. They have grown up together, know what each other thinks. They just are a good bunch.”
The domination of Franklin County pushed the fuel into summer, Kizziah added.
“They are excited,” Kizziah said. “I wanted them to be excited when it was over. They are ready to get going this summer, get in the weight room and get stronger.”
Port St. Joe 28, Franklin County 0
The Tiger Sharks did what Port St. Joe teams do to be successful – run and run some more.
Port St. Joe threw just one pass – it fell incomplete – during two quarters against the Seahawks but the Tiger Sharks but hardly needed it during 16 minutes during which they averaged more than 13 yards per rush while rushing 14 times for 184 yards.
The most damage was provided by Jak Riley who gobbled up 71 of those yards on a touchdown dash.
Cole Cryderman scored on a 16-yard run and Aaron Paul closed the scoring on a 26 year sprint.
Those runs sandwiched around a 26-yard pass interception for touchdown by Jarkeice Davis, who spent much of spring nursing a leg injury.
“He was cleared to play and he as chomping at the bit so we tried to get him in for some plays here and there,” Gannon said.
The Tiger Sharks were without Natrone Lee, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the final days of practice.
“If this was the regular season, he probably could have gone, but there was no reason to risk it,” Gannon said. “But that was my big concern, running the ball without Natrone.
“I thought the offensive line did a good job of blocking and I was real pleased by the blocking of our wideouts.”
Justin Hites and Drew Lacour split place-kicking duties, each hitting two extra points.
“We played pretty good,” Gannon said. “We got to play all our kids and I was real proud of that.”
Port St. Joe 7, Wewahitchka 0
The county rivals battled on relatively even terms for 15 minutes before Marcel Duarte, a junior this fall out for football for the first time, scored on a 10-yard run with 1:04 left in the final two quarters.
“They are very big up front, bigger than most of the teams we will probably play,” Gannon said. “I thought we played pretty good.”
The Tiger Sharks upped their pass attempts by one, but both passes were incomplete.
Port St. Joe again rushed for exactly 184 yards, this time on 29 carries, more than six yards per rush.
Davis had 70 yards on just five carries while Duarte rushed seven times for 44 yards and Carter Thacker added 41 yards on seven carries.
“We spread the ball around and we did a good job of blocking,” Gannon said.
Kizziah said the game was much different than in recent years in that the Gators played on relatively even terms with the Tiger Sharks, save a few miscues.
“We just made a couple of mistakes,” Kizziah said. “We were also getting a little tired, I think.
“It was much different than it has been the past few years. I thought we played them real well. They have a lot of speed and broke off some runs and punched it in late, but I thought we were there. Our kids played really hard and that is what I wanted to see.”
For the night, Gannon said he reached the goal he set for the spring game.
“I think we found some kids who we can move around and play multiple spots,” Gannon said. “We were able to move them around and see how they would do and we have a better idea of our depth chart.
“And we had good effort. That was the main thing we wanted to see.”