The Tigers' massive offensive line wrecks the Jackets' homecoming.
By SCOTT PURKS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 19, 2001
TAMPA -- Jesuit did what it usually does on Friday nights: punish opposing linemen, grind it out on the ground, chew up chunks of time.
This time the victim was Blake, which went down 21-6 on its homecoming night.
"It was the same story last year when they beat us on homecoming (24-13)," Blake coach Clarence Higdon said. "We knew what they were going to do, just try to run right up the gut on us.
"We worked hard to prepare and our kids finally bought into what we were saying. I thought we did a great job on defense, blocking down on their big lineman. But Jesuit just kept coming and pounding away. They wear teams down."
The win pushes Jesuit to 8-0 and 4-0 in Class 3A, District 8. A win next week at Sarasota Booker will give the Tigers the district title, assuring their ninth playoff appearance in 11 years.
"We're focused on the district," said Jesuit running back Aaron Fryer, who led all rushers with 21 carries and 131 yards. "Tonight was a district game and we had to stay focused. Blake played real hard and kept it close for a while, but we kept our composure."
In the beginning, it appeared Blake (1-7, 0-4) might make a game of it, holding Jesuit scoreless until Fryer broke loose for a 44-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter.
Blake countered less than a minute later with a blocked field goal, which Bethel Pierce pounced on in the end zone.
But from there, except for several runs by Jamal Huff (20 carries, 94 yards), it was Fryer, A.J. Schneider and a cloud of Tiger dust.
"Our plan is to keep our defense off the field," Fryer said. "I think it's a plan that works pretty good. Really, it's all about our offensive line. Everything that happens with this team is because of our offensive line."
Jesuit's offensive line averages 275 pounds, and on Friday it gave quarterback Anthony Severino plenty of time to operate. He finished with six completions on 11 attempts for 89 yards, but his completions came at key moments.
"We made sure to plug up the middle, hopefully to make them beat us by throwing or running to the outside," Higdon said. "Like I said, we did a good job with our defensive plan, but really, they just beat us with those big lineman."
Jesuit's second scoring drive was a case in point: It went 80 yards, 14 plays and took nearly 10 minutes.
Severino had the final score with a 13-yard run midway through the third quarter.
In contrast, Blake quarterback Marlon Williams had just gotten called up from the junior varsity and was playing in his second game. Williams was on the run for much of the night and completed only three passes for 15 yards.
"(Williams) is doing a good job, but he still has some learning to do," Higdon said. "It's been a long season, but we're keeping a positive outlook."