ST. AUGUSTINE - Middleburg High football coach Ryan Wolfe has always said his team does not back down against his schedule and, despite a season-opening gauntlet that left the Broncos at 0-3, Wolfe …
ST. AUGUSTINE - Middleburg High football coach Ryan Wolfe has always said his team does not back down against his schedule and, despite a season-opening gauntlet that left the Broncos at 0-3, Wolfe and his team trudged through their season to earn a second region playoff spot in the past two years.
Unfortunately, Wolfe wound up facing off in his region playoff opener against juggernaut St. Augustine High, undefeated and very, very fast.
"This St. Augustine team will win the state title, no doubt," said Wolfe. "They are good in all aspects of the game."
The undefeated and No. 2 ranked (Behind Daytona Beach Mainland) in Class 3S Yellow Jackets (10-0) revved their engine from the first snap with an 80-yard scoring jaunt from running back Trenton Jones en route to a 52-14 running clock win Friday night in St. Augustine.
Middleburg (5-6) tried to retaliate with pocket quarterback Carson Stewart in the backfield and athlete Jaydan Jenkins being utilized from all angles on the field but got a Kaleb Robison punt on their first series to start St. Augustine at their own 40.
After one play, a button hook passes catch to the 46, St. Augustine again broke free with running back Devonte Lyons breaking for paydirt to up the score to 14-0 with 10 minutes still left in the first period.
Both teams exchanged turnovers on the next series after Jenkins rambled 30 yards to put Middleburg into Yellow Jacket territory at their 30, but a St. Augustine pass interception halted the threat.
Middleburg defensive back Erick Fryer picked up a St. Augustine fumble to thread some life, but a punt ensued that Robison landed on the Yellow Jacket's five-yard line.
St. Augustine took just one handoff to be off to the end zone for a 95-yard scamper to put the score at 21-0 still in the first quarter.
St. Augustine would finish the half up 45-0.
"I told them to remember that they were one of the very few teams still playing in November," said Wolfe. "I told them, we're down 45-0 at the half and we weren't going to change that. I wanted them to have a good time, smile and remember where they came from and where we are."
In the second half, with a running clock, Middleburg struck twice with linebacker Austin Cruce stealing a ball in a scrum and sprinting to the five-yard to set up a Landon Nalepa scoring plunge, then, on the next series, Fryer scooped up a botched quarterback shotgun snap in the end zone for the Broncos' second score.
"Austin is the face of the program with his no quit," said Wolfe. "He's been the leader."
For Cruce, one of the top tacklers in the county the past two seasons, the growth of the program under his leadership will certainly be his legacy.
"I got out of wind on the fumble run," said Cruce with his Cowboy smile. "I thought maybe they keep the jayvee in, we rack up some quick points on them in the fourth quarter, but they were good."
Cruce commented that he got nearly 300 tackles in his three years, three rushing touchdowns and a bunch of hard tackles.
"After the Ribault game when they let me run the ball and I scored from 36 yards out, I kind of put the team on my shoulders and wanted us to get to the playoffs and finish as one of the playoff teams from the county," said Cruce. "I think whenever we needed a first down, I was first in line to take the ball."