Sharks devour Apaches in season opener


The Ponte Vedra High School football opener was billed as the Pre-Season Classic. It’s difficult to describe the game as a classic – if anything, it was a classic rout, with the Sharks destroying the Apaches 56-12, scoring 49 unanswered points in the first half.

Shark Head Coach Matt Toblin had an easy night, challenged only by when to pull his starters and how to get his entire 50-plus player bench some playing time. It appeared that every Shark substitute had that opportunity, if not in the first half then certainly in the second.

Ponte Vedra overcame a minor glitch in its first series when quarterback Nick Tronti was sacked and fumbled the ball into the hands of a waiting Apache. But, as was the case for the entire first half, Arlington did not capitalize on the break. Instead, they turned around and handed the ball back to the hosts on a nifty pass interception by linebacker Duncan Van Kouteren at the visitors’ 30-yard line. Van Kouteren, escorted by Andrew O’Dare, sprinted 70 yards to put the Sharks up 7-0.

Three minutes later, after the Apaches were forced to punt after they could not gain a yard, Hal Swan slipped down the sideline for 27 yards to set up Tronti’s one-yard touchdown sneak and 14-0 Ponte Vedra lead.

Moments later, Swan took advantage of the Apache offensive struggles by turning a fourth and two failure into a 37-yard touchdown.

Another Arlington 3-and-out put the ball back in Tronti’s hands. The senior quarterback lofted a 20-yard pass to JD Pirris to set up Zachery King’s 15-yard touchdown.

Things went from bad to worse for the Apaches on their next series. Linebacker Jacob Reeves picked off an Arlington pass and turned it into an 18-yard touchdown, giving the Sharks a 35-0 lead with 10 minutes still left on the first-half clock.

By now Tronti’s night was over and sophomore Jack Murrah took his place. Murrah hit Marshall Few for 25 yards, then found junior running back King on a swing pass. King, who had an impressive evening with three touchdowns, gathered in Murrah’s pass and followed tackle Zach Lowery’s lead blocking 23 yards to the end zone. King added his third score of the game when he drove for three yards under the Apache defense as the third quarter wound down.

Next came the third backup quarterback for the Sharks – JP Vindas-Leyva – and he wasn’t about to be left out of the scorebook. His fourth-quarter pass to Mark Calvin went for 15 yards and the final Ponte Vedra touchdown of the night.

It was far from classic, but Coach Toblin had to be pleased with the performance of so many of his players, especially of his non-starters.

The Sharks start the season in earnest on Friday, when they travel three miles down the road to face Nease in the annual Battle of the Bridge. The 7 p.m. game is expected to be a sellout, so get tickets early and plan to arrive early or face a long walk from any parking spot.