Senior Night. Homecoming. Friday night was everything anyone would want in a high school football game. And the football…the football was nearly flawless. The Florida High Seminoles came off a mid-season bye week in late-season form. The Robert F. Munroe Day School Bobcats came to Tallahassee in hopes of improving their season winning percentage but the Noles were not cooperating; instead, Florida High had its most balanced and clean game of the 2022 campaign.
The Seminoles took the opening kickoff, and junior running back Jalon Carter set the tone of the game with an electrifying 53-yard return. The subsequent nine-play drive included three first downs, one of which came on a fourth-down run by senior Rhyder Poppell. Poppell scored the first touchdown of the game on the next play, a 10-yard pass from junior quarterback Jeremy Johnston. Sophomore kicker Cole Allbaugh capped off the drive with an extra point, and just like that, the Noles were up 7-0.
The Bobcats’ first drive ended in a punt from their 38-yard line. The Noles’ defense, which included senior defensive lineman Eli Williams back from the injured list, only gave up 10 first downs to the Bobcats. The Seminole defense only allowed one score throughout the night and had one touchdown by senior defensive back DJ Broxton. They showed up and showed out for a raucous home field crowd.
Poppell led the charge on Florida High’s next offensive drive, with two 26-yard rushes and a 26-yard pass completion. Senior running back Jalon Carter finished off the drive with a two-yard rush. The successful extra point gave the Noles a fast 14-0 lead.
The Bobcats made quick work of their third possession, putting the ball into the end zone with two big rushing plays. Although this drive gave their fans hope, the Bobcats were held by the Noles defense to only 68 total offensive yards for the remainder of the game.
Johnston, Florida High’s starting quarterback, took care of the ball on Friday night. He did not have any interceptions, completing 13 of 23 passes for 167 yards. The Seminole offensive line provided outstanding protection for Johnston, giving up only one quarterback sack on the night. The running game produced just over 200 yards rushing.
Some other game highlights included a 58-yard touchdown by sophomore running back Jayden Threatts. Unfortunately the play was called back because of a holding penalty, but the athleticism and speed of Threatts was in full display on the run, showing glimpses of exciting football to come from this up-and-coming underclassman.
Poppell followed up the Threatts run with a 44-yard rumble of his own, which left several pairs of Bobcat cleats littering the field. That 11-play drive ended with a 10-yard touchdown reception by senior wide receiver Donovan Barnes. The Noles were up 21-7 just minutes into the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, the Noles were about to hand the Bobcats their second three-and-out, but a penalty on the Noles for roughing the kicker gave their drive new life. That punt came on a fourth-and-22 that was created by a quarterback sack by the Noles’ junior linebacker Rolando Robbins. That drive ended on four incomplete passes, the last of which came on a fourth-and-10.
On the Bobcats’ second possession of the second half, they found themselves in a third-and-12 on their 46-yard line. A mishandled lateral pass was scooped up by senior defensive back DJ Broxton, who scampered 46 yards for the Noles’ fourth touchdown. Up 28-7, Florida High gave themselves a more comfortable lead.
The next Seminole scoring drive came after another Munroe three-and-out. It started with a 35-yard punt return by junior running back Micahi Danzy. A personal foul penalty put the Noles in a third-and-25 situation. A bubble screen to junior wide receiver Jacques Gilliam, behind a critical down-field block by sophomore lineman Sam Wemm, gained 29 yards and set up a five-yard touchdown run by Danzy, giving the Noles a 35-7 lead.
Four plays later, the Noles took back possession of the ball after an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-three. The Noles put up one more touchdown on the run left to Danzy behind a Poppell block. This 44-yard run was the exclamation mark on a Seminole victory.
It’s common to look at these games weekly and try to qualify each victory by examining the other teams’ records. Who have they played? Were those strong teams? When we faced off, did our opponent have any key injuries that gave the Noles an advantage? These are all good questions, but regardless of their answers, at the end of this week, the Seminoles are 6-0. They have just finished a four-game home stretch during which they’ve outscored opponents 153-13. The offense did not have any turnovers against a good Munroe team, which is a tribute to a young quarterback whose decision-making and ball skills have notably improved each week. The defense continues to shine and new names like Robbins and sophomore defensive lineman Nias Dorsey, who both had quarterback sacks, popped up on the radar.
Something special is happening in our small, southern corner of Tallahassee. Our players high-fived and celebrated scores with kids in the relocated end zone student section. Our home-side stands were overflowing with loud and proud fans celebrating the Marching Braves, cheerleaders and our team’s seniors, our Florida High homecoming court, and our ”en fuego” football team. Seminole faithful, it’s time to take this show on the road and make it clear to the Big Bend (and beyond!) that this team is locked in and laser-focused on a single, shared mission: bringing a state championship home to Southwood.