• Columbia quarterback Jordan Smith unloads a pass as he scrambles away from Bartram Trail's Tyler Ritchie during the teams' spring game on Friday (BRENT KUYKENDALL/Lake City Reporter).
    Columbia quarterback Jordan Smith unloads a pass as he scrambles away from Bartram Trail's Tyler Ritchie during the teams' spring game on Friday (BRENT KUYKENDALL/Lake City Reporter).

PREP FOOTBALL: Columbia gets revenge on Bartram Trail in spring game

Quarterback Jordan Smith accounts for three touchdowns in win.

The Tigers didn't need much more motivation after losing last year's spring game on their home turf. One year later, it was Columbia walking off the field victoriously.

Columbia's star-studded offense torched the visiting Bears for three touchdowns in the opening half. The Tigers' defense remained stout even after starters exited, getting an eye-opening performance from the second and third-team units. In the end, it was the reserve players who helped Columbia outlast Bartram Trail 28-13 Friday night.

Columbia got revenge, knocking off longtime foe and reigning Class 7A state runner-up.

"It feels good, we worked really hard this spring as a team," linebacker Ethan Umstead said. "And we were looking forward to playing these guys after getting beat last year. It feels really good to beat them this year, knowing how good of a team they were last year. To beat them sets our stakes even higher for the season."

Columbia's first-team offense was as good as advertised as the unit scored on its first two drives of the exhibition game. Quarterback Jordan Smith, who finished the game with 174 total yards, got his team on the board with a 1-yard goal-line punch.

The Tigers took a 14-0 advantage when Smith found Marquez Bell for a 41-yard touchdown. Behind its formidable defense, Columbia kept cruising when Bobby Fulton caught a wide-open bomb for a 60-yard touchdown early in the second.

"One of the biggest things I was happy to see was how Jordan came out and operated the offense," Columbia coach Brian Allen said of the rising junior, who finished with three scores. "He came and hit his throws. We added some tweaks (Thursday) in our walk-through, and he came out and executed well. Bartram is always going to have well-coached players and sound packages. So I was very proud of the way he made his reads and delivered throws. And for the (first-team) defense, they were outstanding, when you go against Bartram and don't give up any scores. Special teams was solid, didn't give up anything major. I was pleased with that. We'll watch the film and I'm sure there's things we can take into summer. But as we continue to move forward, I feel like the offense is only going to advance and the defense only will get better as we get more comfortable. It's about players getting comfortable and continuing to build confidence."

Bartram Trail kicker Will Greig converted two field goals (18, 22) before halftime.

The Tigers continued to receive strong play from the backup units in the second half.

Bears starting quarterback Chad Dodson did most of his damage on the ground as he tallied 94 rushing yards. But it was backup quarterback Michael French who put together the team's best drive, capped off with a 3-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarterback. The Bears cut the defect to a single score but the Tigers answered about four minutes later.

Columbia quarterback Ty Weinger shook off an earlier interception and marched the offense downfield on his successful fourth quarter drive. Smith's understudy went 6 for 7 on the drive, resulting in a 32-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Dixon.

The lone score in the final period was enough to seal the spring game victory.

"I've been so pleased with Ty this spring," Allen added. "I try to do best when I am coaching this quarterback position is making sure a kid progresses year to year. If you aren't developing, it doesn't matter whether it's a 6'5'' big-armed guy. Ty is a kid who's smart, and if we're every in a situation, he'll be able to come in and operate the offense. We won't miss a beat in the process. He knows where to go with it."

Columbia aims to build on this confidence-boosting win entering the summer. The Tigers are poised to begin their summer workouts on June 11. Columbia also is hosting a 7v7 tournament next month. After dominating the competition this spring, the Tigers have plenty to be excited about when the entire team regroups in August.

"This is really, really good squad," Umstead added. "We should be able to make a deep playoff run if we just keep working and playing hard."

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