The Port St. Joe Sharks ended spring football with an impressive offensive display in a 42-14 shellacking of the Royals of Jay High on Friday, May 28.
The results clearly showed the Sharks have bought into head coach Tanner Jones’ “be the storm” philosophy.
On the second play of the night, rising senior Dakota Quinn swept around the left side from his quarterback position and ended up in the end zone 70 yards later after an electrifying run. However, a holding penalty nullified the play and brought the ball back to the Shark 37-yard line.
On the bright side, that penalty “allowed us to run more plays,” said Jones. "(In the spring game) it’s all about the reps we can get.”
Undeterred, the Sharks needed only four plays to score, highlighted by a 34-yard romp by rising junior D.J. Oliver and a 28-yard pass from Quinn to rising senior Nick Jefferson. Oliver finished the drive with a 1-yard run. Rising senior Christian Peacock hit the first of his six extra points to give the Sharks a 7-0 lead with 9:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Following a Jay 3-and-out and punt, Port St. Joe needed only two plays to increase its lead. On a nifty athletic play, rising junior Prince Jones out-jumped the Jay cornerback on a tipped pass and sped to the 18-yard line.
The Sharks increased their lead to 14-0 on the next play, an 18-yard pass from rising senior Colin Amison to rising junior Lajuan Zaccaro. Amison would eventually throw for 148 yards to five different receivers.
Only 20 seconds later, Jefferson intercepted a pass from Royals quarterback rising junior Cason Burkett and took it to the end zone to increase the lead to 21-0.
Although Jay was able to get its first 1st down during the next drive, it was short-lived as a Zaccaro interception gave the Sharks the ball on the Royals 30-yard line.
The Sharks scored their final touchdown of the quarter with 1:29 remaining after a four-play drive featuring a 22-yard pass from Amison to Quinn, and a 14-yard touchdown run by rising senior Aiden Gainer, ending the quarter ahead 28-0.
Neither team scored in the second quarter with the Shark defense throttling the Jay offense. For the half, Jay managed only three first downs while punting three times.
Receiving the kickoff to start the third quarter, Jay put together an 11-play drive that took 4:32 off the clock, scoring on a 25-yard pass from Burkett to rising senior Toby Mandell to close the gap to 28-7 at the 7:28 mark.
“We decided to let our young guys play” in the second half, said Jones. “We had some seventh and eighth graders out there against their varsity guys (and) we’re going to count on those guys in the season, so we need as many reps as we can get out of them right now.”
"In the first half we had nine guys playing offense who turned around and played defense," Jones said. "So, if we can get them a break (during the season), we’ve got to get those young guys ready.”
Exactly 12 seconds and one play later, Port St. Joe answered. Kellen Speights took a short pass from Amison and the fleet-footed rising senior raced 75 yards for the score to increase the Shark lead to 35-7.
Port St. Joe’s final score of the evening was set up by a fumble recovery by rising junior Saylor Tull in Jay territory. On second down, Prince Jones sliced through the middle of the defense on his way to a 39-yard touchdown run. Peacock’s kick increased the Shark lead to 42-7 with 4:43 in the third quarter.
Aided by three Port St. Joe penalties, Jay put together a 10-play drive and scored on rising senior Lake Gandy’s 8-yard touchdown run, making the score 42-14 in favor of the Sharks.
Even though Port St. Joe failed to score in the fourth quarter, the younger players represented themselves well. Offensively, rising freshman quarterback Luke Lomauro threw for more than 100 yards; rising eighth grader receiver Chance Gainer caught three passes for 72 yards; and rising freshman Sugar Shackleford and rising eighth grader Corbin Butts were among eight Shark running backs to rush for positive yardage.
On a more somber note, with less than two minutes left in the third quarter Dakota Quinn was tackled behind the line while running a reverse, resulting in his leaving the field with a shoulder injury.
As explosive as the Sharks looked on offense and as dominating as they were defensively, the spring game did not allow for a look at the special teams. By rule, no rush was allowed during punts or extra points. With no kickoff returns, the receiving team took possession at their own 25-yard line after the kick.
Fans will have to wait for the regular season to see what the whole package looks like. Based on the evidence provided by the spring game, opponents should take note of the Sharks’ wide array of speedy athletic talent on both sides of the ball.