Friday night’s district match up against the Gadsden County Jaguars, who came in to Mike Hickman stadium 0-3, was a good test for a short-handed Florida High defense and an opportunity for some younger players to get some real game-time experience. The Seminoles came out on top with a 42-0 victory and secured first place in Class 2S District 3.
The Noles’ defense was down a few key men, with senior linebacker Chris Cotton and senior defensive lineman Eli Williams sidelined with injuries. However, Florida High didn’t lose any of its dominance over its opponent. The Noles held the Jaguars to under 150 total yards and seven first downs. Gadsden’s deepest penetration into Florida High territory was to the 21-yard line during a drive that ended in a missed field goal. Other than that one drive, the Jags did not cross the Florida High 40 the rest of the night.
Offensively, Florida High started slow and did not score in the first quarter. An early fumble ended their first drive; however, the Seminoles’ second possession ate up most of the first quarter clock and spilled over to the second. It ended in a 24-yard catch-and-run touchdown run by junior running back Micahi Danzy who followed the down blocks of junior Ashton Hampton and junior offensive tackle Mark Faircloth.
Sophomore kicker Cole Allbaugh capped the drive with the extra point. Allbaugh, behind the long snap of senior Jack Wemm and junior quarterback Jeremy Johnston’s holding, has been perfect this year on point-after kicks. The Noles were up 7-0 early in the second quarter.
The Seminoles’ second touchdown, which came on a direct snap to senior wide receiver Brooks Hickman, came at the end of a 10-play drive that started at the Florida High 21-yard line. It included a 26-year rushing gain by senior running back Rhyder Poppell and a 14-yard reception by Hickman on a third-and-seven. Hickman’s touchdown went left through a massive breach in the defense, created by a wave of blocks led by senior tight end Christian Johnston and sophomore tight end Maurice Adams, Jr. The Noles had a 14-0 lead.
The Noles’ third drive ended in an interception on a 26-yard pass from Johnston to Hampton. The Jaguars took possession on their one-yard line. After a three-and-out, Danzy returned a punt 34 yards to the Jaguar’s one-yard line. Danzy ran the ball in for a touchdown on the next play, leaving the frustrated Jaguars pounding on the ground. The Noles were up 21-0.
The Jaguars next series included a sack by junior linebacker Derrick McGhee, which forced a fourth-and-15. The kicker accidentally downed the ball on the subsequent punt, giving it back to the Noles on the Gadsden 43-yard line. The Noles’ four-play drive ended with a 31-yard one-handed catch by Poppell. The last score of the first half put Florida High up 28-0.
Senior Donovan Barnes took the second-half kick-off and returned it 21 yards, and the Noles began the seven-play drive on their own 31. Poppell had a 35-yard rush, dragging Jaguar players about 15 yards after contact in his usual bullish manner. Three plays later, Hampton took a lateral 19 yards to the house behind the blocks of Faircloth and junior guard Collin Bishop. Noles up 35-0.
Gadsden’s next three-and-out culminated in a 10-yard punt return by sophomore Jayden Threatts. Junior wide receiver Jacques Gilliam had an 18-yard reception on the Noles’ next scoring drive. Danzy would score on a 15-yard run to the right side behind the blocks of sophomore lineman Sam Wemm and freshman tackle William Hathcock. That last score of the game, which made it 41-0, initiated the running clock and hastened the game’s end.
The Noles came to play Friday night, bringing their lunchboxes and workman-like attitudes to secure the district win. After punching out, they undoubtedly turned their focus to perennial rival Madison County, who will come into the Shack 2-2 with a two-game losing streak. One of their wins was a 35-6 win over Godby in week 2. Florida High can’t underestimate the Cowboys, who will bring with them a winning tradition and something to prove.