By: Ken Cooper (@coop5106)
Heart break; that's all any Sandalwood fan can feel this week. After a first half which left the home team in a 17-0 deficit, the Saints came to life on two Mike White rushing touchdowns. A recovered fumble on the ensuing kick-off followed up by a third rushing score for White put the Saints on top 21-20 with roughly 8 minutes to play in the game. Just as the Senators cross the 50 yard line, the worst thing that could happen...happened. Sandalwood forces a Fletcher fumble, which is scooped up by Saints' junior linebacker Bodie Matts. Sounds like a good thing, right? Matts, doing as defensive Coordinator Dough Pariseau teaches, looks to break the game wide open with a scoop and score opportunity, recovers the ball and high tails it for the end-zone. Moments later Matts is caught from behind by the Senator's fullback who forces a fumble himself, which is recovered by Fletcher's RB Jamari Smith. The rest is history. The Senators drive down the field running the remaining 4 minutes off the clock to kick the would be game winning field goal with just 22 seconds left to play.
“Its hard to fault Matts (for the loss), he did what we teach him to do; Fletcher's fullback made a great play and punched (the ball) out; we still had the chance to stop them, but they ended up driving down the field and getting that final score with 22 seconds left to play in the game,” said coach Pariseau “ Obviously (the loss) hurts, not only is Fletcher a rivalry but its a district game so it was an important game for us to get where we hoped to get this season...but there are some positives from the game so we're going to look at those and move forward. We're hoping that we'll get to see them again in the second round of the playoffs.”
Sandalwood (2-2) visits Terry Parker (2-2) this week. Parker has been a bit of a surprise team this year with a big 24-14 win over an athletic Ribault team in week 2 and a 51-7 rout of Lee in week 3. The Braves fell short last week though, losing 29-12 to Forrest. “They are vastly improved from last year, they've got some athletes and a lot of speed in the back field. They change it (offensive formations) up a lot so we'll have to be sure to line up right and play well from a defensive stand point,” said coach Pariseau. The question now is how the Saints will respond to two consecutive home losses. “We've had a good week of preparation, and I think our guys will come out and try and send a message to Parker along with everybody else in town.”
The Saints will be heavy favorites going into Parker on the heals of a close loos to what many believe is the best 8A team in the state. I see the Saints playing as if they have something to prove this week, which could be bad news for the Braves.
Kick-off for this game is set for 7pm Friday at Terry Parker High. Be sure to follow me on twitter @coop5106 for live updates during the game, and check back in to 1010xl.com every Friday afternoon for a Sandalwood recap and preview.
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