TAMPA The Matt Thompson era got off to a good start Friday as Jesuit downed Dixie Hollins, 34-21 in a spring football jamboree.
For Thompson, it marked the first time he has been on the sideline as head coach. He came to Jesuit after a long stint as a defensive coach at perennial power Armwood. The Tigers made some mistakes, including some critical special teams mishaps, in the win, but Thompson was pleased with how his head coaching debut turned out.
“We are a very young team, and we are going to make mistakes,’’ Thompson said. “The offense looked sharp and we were able to run the typical long, methodical Jesuit offense. I liked what I saw.’’
Thompson faces a big, but happy challenge in his first year. When spring practice started, he had seven quarterbacks on the roster. He’s still trying to decide among Vincent Testaverde, who started the final three games last season, Trent Wessel, and several others.
“It’s a good problem to have,’’ Thompson said. “They looked great tonight.’’
Testaverde scored on a quarterback keeper, and Wessel threw for two touchdowns and scored on a short run.
Zephyrhills runs wild against Ridgewood ZEPHYRHILLS In one of the most dominant performances by a Pasco County football team this spring, Zephyrhills rushed for 365 yards and showcased its deep stable of running backs in a 43-7 win against Ridgewood.
The Bulldogs ran only four different offensive plays in the game, and no running back carried the ball more then five times. Still, two players, Jordan Roberts (133 yards, two touchdowns) and Jaylen Pickett (114 yards, one TD) were able to eclipse the century mark. A third, Malik Mutcherson, touched the ball twice and scored twice, on runs of 63 and 32 yards.
“Here’s the thing: they’re all young,” Zephyrhills coach Reggie Roberts said of his running backs. “We’re doing what we do, and that’s Bulldog football this year. We’re going to run the ball.”
Zephyrhills led 29-0 at the half, and a running clock was used during the fourth quarter in the all-varsity contest. Roberts was surprised by the physicality of the game, calling it similar to a regular-season game in that regard. But it was the culmination of what he considered the best series of practices he has seen from his squad as he enters his fourth season as coach.
Ridgewood fought hard, intercepting a Zephyrhills pass early and keeping the game scoreless through most of the first quarter. But ultimately the Rams’ 23-man roster was worn out trying to contain the Bulldogs and slow to get the offense going.
Darnell Lindsey (17 carries, 83 yards) had a late 37-yard run to set up Ridgewood’s only score, a 3-yard pass from Nicholas Michaels to Josh Sojka. Glass Wilson, Ridgewood’s other quarterback, passed for 34 yards and rushed for 24.
Wright, Springstead rally past Anclote SPRING HILL Mike Garofano made his head coaching debut for Springstead on Friday against Anclote, and backup quarterback Joey Jeffords led the Eagles to three consecutive TDs in the second half for a 28-13 victory.
Down 13-7 at the intermission, the Eagles opened the second half with a 13-play, 73-drive drive capped by a 6-yard TD reception by Latavious Hannah.
Sophomore fullback Daniel Wright, who scored the Eagles’ first touchdown from 3 yards out, had six carries for 43 yards on the drive.
After the Sharks went three and out, the Eagles scored on a 37-yard screen pass from Jeffords to Kevin Bedford.
Eight plays later, Springstead linebacker Austin Stock intercepted a pass, leading to a 5-yard Wright TD.
Wright rushed for 297 yards on 23 attempts.
Seffner Christian tops Santa Fe Catholic 28-6 WINTER HAVEN Marcus Richardson rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns as Seffner Christian defeated Santa Fe Catholic, 28-6, in its spring jamboree Thursday night.
Nashon Denoit opened the game with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Robbie Shell, followed by a fumble recovery in the end zone by Christian Becker to give the Crusaders a 14-0 lead.
Seffner Christian’s defense had seven sacks and eight tackles for a loss.