PREP FOOTBALL: Fort White pulls away from Terry Parker
FORT WHITE — The Indians did their part.
Then they got a little help from their friends over at Pace High School.
Behind 130 rushing yards and three touchdowns from running back Stanley Maxwell, Fort White pulled away from Terry Parker for a 34-19 win on homecoming night at Arrowhead Stadium. Pace then defeated Pensacola Catholic 37-30 a little over an hour later, a result that should give the Indians a home playoff game in next week’s Region 1-3A quarterfinals based on the Lake City Reporter's calculations.
Fort White (8-2) entered the night with the No. 4 seed in Region 1-3A with a 38.22 average, just ahead of Pensacola Catholic and Taylor County’s 37-point averages. Taylor County also lost to Suwannee 33-6, meaning Fort White should be hosting Penscaola Catholic while Taylor County likely heads to Baldwin, which locked up the No. 3 seed with a win over Paxon.
Fort White head coach Demetric Jackson went straight to his office after the game Friday night to start crunching the numbers, hoping they’d fall in his team’s favor by night’s end. They did once Pensacola Catholic fell to 5-5 on the season.
“It drives me insane,” he said of the process.
With the way games were breaking Friday night, the Indians needed Pace to pull off the victory or they would have been headed deep into the panhandle next week. Nothing is official until the FHSAA's selection show, which will be streamed live today at 11 a.m. on WFTV.com.
It wasn’t looking great for the Indians earlier in the night as all the teams they needed to win for a boost in points were losing — Santa Fe, Bradford and Williston. Those three teams were dropping their point average unless they finished off Parker (3-7) and Pensacola Catholic lost.
It looked as if Pensacola Catholic was primed for a win too, leading Pace 30-23 in the fourth before Pace rallied with two late touchdowns. Otherwise, Fort White would have been headed west despite a better record.
Florida High and St. Joseph’s will receive the two bye weeks in the region as the top two seeds.
“There’s definitely a flaw (in the system) because the two teams we lost to are higher classification (Suwannee and Bradford),” Fort White coach Demetric Jackson said. “Florida High is good. Baldwin is good and they’ve played some tough competition but I think you need to take into consideration when you’re playing high-classification teams. St. Joseph’s played all small schools. They went undefeated and they were fortunate to get those schools to play them. We can’t get them to play us so that’s an unfair advantage so I think they need to reward us if we can’t play the small schools. We had to play Suwannee, we had to play Bradford and then Terry Parker in the last game of the season — a 5A school. But it’s still a win so we’ve just got to make do with what we get.”
Parker didn’t make it easy for Fort White on Friday.
It looked as if the Indians would pull away early on, with Maxwell scoring from three yards out in the first quarter and then from two yards away in the second. Fort White was driving again midway through the quarter at the Parker 46 but a bad snap went flying over the head of quarterback Dylan Blair and was scooped up by linebacker Damian Deleston, who went 35 yards the other way for a touchdown.
“For that play we needed three yards so when it went a little high I wasn’t far enough back so it just went a little bit over my head,” said Blair, who completed just six of 12 attempts for 91 yards and an interception. “I should’ve caught it.”
The Braves missed the extra point but their defense quickly forced a three-and-out. Quarterback Desmond Brown then threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Williams seven plays later to cut Fort White’s lead to 14-13.
But the Indians’ defense was stellar the rest of the way, holding the Braves to just 149 yards of total offense for the night.
“That one drive we stopped playing sound football and they kind of got us a little bit but I’m proud of our defense,” Jackson said.
Maxwell pushed the lead back to eight with a one-yard score with 31 seconds left in the first half before the Indians pulled away in the second half. Kameron Calhoun had a one-yard scoring run on Fort White’s first drive of the second half and backup quarterback Tyler Jefferson found the end zone on a keeper from 10 yards out early in the fourth quarter,
The Indians finished with a team total of 253 rushing yards.
“We ate it up,” Maxwell said.
Fort White now heads into the postseason on a six-game winning streak.
“We’ve got to come in and play football day in and day out,” Maxwell said. “Coach Jackson is a pretty great coach. He doesn’t tell us wrong. When we play as a team we play great games. As long as we have a great playoff week of practice and stay in that playoff atmosphere, I feel like we can go pretty far.”