Franklin County High School varsity football coach Aaron York has a message for his players, after they were shut out Friday night in a pre-season game at home against Wewahitchka.
“Everything we did wrong is correctable and you will be ready to go on Friday night for our first official game,” said York. “I was proud of your effort and not quitting when you could have.
“We emphasize that it was a practice game,” he said.
The thundershowers cleared in time for Friday evening’s Kickoff Classic, but that didn’t stop Wewahitchka’s Rashard Ranie from drenching the Seahawks.
The junior quarterback scored two 70-yard touchdown runs in the first quarter, added a third equally long scoring run midway through the second, and threw for a fourth TD in the final quarter as he sparked the Gators to a 54-0 blanking of the home team.
The lopsided win proved somewhat of a surprise to Wewa coach Dennis Kizziah, who had planned to use more of his offensive variations in the pre-season matchup.
“I know they (the Seahawks) are a young team,” he said. “We didn’t get to run nearly as many plays as I wanted to. I wanted to throw it a little bit but we got ahead too quickly.
“We wanted to work it in,” he said. “We’re going to be a running team but we got to throw some to keep them from putting eight or nine guys in a box on us. We have to throw it some to loosen them up.”
York let it be known that it’s uphill from here for his squad..
“Our kids did not quit, all played hard throughout the entire game,” he said. “Out of the 26 we dressed, over half of them played their first varsity football game - it was a good learning experience for all of them; they learned the speed of the game.”
After Ranie’s two touchdowns put the Gators ahead 14-0 going into the second quarter, junior Brett Satterfield scampered for a 59 yard score and a 20-0 lead.
Seahawk senior quarterback Logan McLeod, handing off to senior runner Alex Causey, junior Cole Wheeler and sophomore Trenton Lee, then drove the Seahawks into the Gator red zone for their deepest penetration of the night.
But with 6:41 left in the half, Wewa senior Isaac Madrid intercepted a McLeod pass in the end zone to stifle the drive.
“I thought at times we ran the ball well, with Trent Lee, who led with 72 yards, and Alex Causey and Cole Wheeler,” said York. “But defensively we did not make tackles at the point of contact. We’re working on just missing blocks, and missing holes as far as running the ball. Defensively we couldn’t wrap up. We lost contain on several plays and those things we’ve corrected today.”
Madrid managed the Gators’ sixth score of the night, and got the running clock going, when he hauled in a Ranie pass with 11 minutes left in the third quarter for a 47-yard scoring strike and a 41-0 lead.
The Gators amassed a 34-0 lead going into the locker rooms after junior Bryan Harris scored a 23-yard rushing touchdown with 40 seconds left in the first half.
Wewa’s final two scores both came courtesy of the Gator’s backups, as sophomore Hunter Hysmith rushed for a 43-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and sophomore Caleb Shiver ended the game with a 61-yard touchdown gallop with no time left on the clock.
“I was pleased with our second group that went in there,” said Kizziah.
The Gators also got rushing production from senior Javar Hill, who ran four times for 23 yards; sophomore Cameron Jones, who rushed three times for 18 yards. Senior Jamie Hensley and sophomore Peter Setterich split the kicking assignment, with each nailing three extra points.
Another Seahawk who got a workout on the sidelines was 2003 Apalachicola High School grad Jenni Edmiston Puhr, who has returned to the Panhandle while her husband earns his master’s at Florida State University.
She earned her athletic trainer credentials after graduating from Troy University in 2007, and then enhanced them with a master’s in health administration in 2009 from the University of North Florida. She is working the Seahawks games on behalf of Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic, where she is employed.
Franklin County hosts South Walton Friday, and York said the Seahawks are planning to bounce back to show their resilient side.
“South Walton is going to throw the ball a lot and we are already prepping for them,” he said.