Posted: 1:36 am Saturday, August 27th, 2011
By Jeff Greer
PAHOKEE — As his team walked off the field Friday night, Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson asked, “What do you want me to say?”
His team had just lost, 27-0, to Jupiter Christian in its kickoff classic, the second thrashing in two preseason matchups against Jupiter Christian over the past two years. His Blue Devils had committed 12 penalties for 85 yards. They’d turned the ball over four times. They’d allowed 322 yards of Jupiter Christian offense.
As if Pahokee needed anything else to go wrong, it did: Starting quarterback Rashaun Croney left the game with a leg injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.
1. Bad breaks. It wasn’t the penalties or the turnovers that hurt Pahokee the most in Friday night’s 27-0 loss to Jupiter Christian, though they didn’t help. It was Croney’s injury. Thompson said he wasn’t sure whether it was a bone bruise or fracture, but Croney had crutches with him on the sidelines.
Before the injury, Croney, a sophomore, displayed what his teammates had described in the spring as a new-found comfort as a signal caller. When his pocket collapsed, he scrambled. He was elusive. He was fast. He was effective.
After Jupiter Christian opened the game with an eight-play, 51-yard scoring drive, Croney fought right back. On the first play from scrimmage, he juked his way to 37 yards after he appeared to be cornered in the backfield. He had other runs that showed off his athleticism. If anything, he gave his team hope that he could make something out of nothing.
His backup, Josh Carr, is an eighth grader. All things considered (down big, not even in high school yet), Carr was fantastic. He was 10 of 21 for 138 yards, though he did throw two interceptions. But I’d like to think Pahokee would rather have him get some reps as a backup before throwing him into the fire.
You never like to see kids get hurt, so here’s hoping Croney’s injury — whatever we find out it is — heals quickly.
“I don’t think they’re a bad football team,” Jupiter Christian coach Bill Powers said. “It hurt them when their quarterback went out. He’s a good player.”
2. Same punch, different boxers. With the exception of Isaiah Nelson and Austin Talbott, Jupiter Christian had some new fighters in the ring tonight. Nate Cannon looked like Nelson 2.0. Cannon showed he can catch the ball in traffic. He can run it. He can catch and run. He do a little bit off everything. He capped off 111 yards of total offense with a 32-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
Hulking junior Jesse Stephanos looked like he was more than ready to fill Jupiter Christian’s bruiser role vacated by Ryan Powers, who graduated. He took 16 carries for 51 yards. He scored on a fumble recovery on defense. (Oh, and Jesse, I’m sorry, but I’m gonna have to call you Uncle Jesse all season. It’s just a natural nickname, buddy. Start working on your hair and being awesome.)
3. The Life of Bostic. I know what you’re thinking: Did he really just spend half a paragraph making a Full House reference? Yeah, it happened. It’d be best if we all forgot about it and moved on. How about we talk about Keddy Bostic?
Jupiter Christian’s UCF-bound quarterback showed an improved touch and a bit more … brute force tonight. He was beat up a lot in the backfield, but he is a tough kid to tackle. He had a finger injury that limited his throwing to short passes, but his touch on his screens and swings was great. Overall, it was a good night to be Bostic. He was 11-of-15 for 164 yards, two touchdown passes and a touchdown run.
“I thought he threw the ball great on his rollouts,” Powers said. “We have a lot of weapons on offense.”
4. Youth surfaces. Let’s face it: This ain’t your big brother’s Pahokee. It’s hard to match a generation as good as the one that brought Pahokee so many of its state titles just a few years ago. With this new batch of players, Thompson has an extremely young group. With that youth comes plenty of inexperience and a lot of bone-headed mistakes. (There’s also tons of potential. More on that later.)
Pahokee committed 12 penalties for 85 yards and turned the ball over four times on Friday. The defense was a bit too jumpy at times and Bostic exposed that. On offense, the receivers appeared to run incorrect routes and blocks were missed.
“Four turnovers …” Thompson said. “We thought we were better — we think that we’re better than we were last year. We didn’t show it tonight. You can say the offense always takes a little bit longer to develop, but we were terrible across the board. There’s a lot of work to do. That’s it.”
5. About that potential … On the flip side, there were some positives that came from the loss. Clint Everett had eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Keithlin Patrick and Shaquille White had productive nights at receiver.
Maybe the brightest spot (other than Carr being so calm at quarterback) was Jonathan Jordan. Thompson mentioned his name first earlier this month when talking about who he expected to play a big role for his team in 2011. Jordan took nine carries for 110 yards, including three runs for more than 20 yards and a fourth for 18.
“There’s always something to learn from,” Thompson said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board.”
Powers had his own thoughts on Pahokee when asked to compare them to last year’s team, which Jupiter Christian beat 35-14 in the kickoff classic: “I think they’re a little bit better. They’ve got some athletes. Their line is a bit better … There’s a lot of tradition out here. They’re young. They’re gonna get better. I know they’re not happy with what happened tonight.”