Barring a complete collapse by the district-leading Sharks in their final conference game against Parker, last Friday night’s football matchup against the Bishop Kenny Crusaders would determine the winner of the Class 5A District 4 title. Both teams seemed to realize that and played with the intensity a championship game demanded, albeit not without several critical mistakes by both teams. In the end, the Sharks had too much Nick Tronti and Marshall Few for BK and came out on the long end of the 28-21 final score.
Tronti connected on 22 of 33 passes – seven to Marshall Few – for 285 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, the quarterback rushed for 68 yards. Few, who is having an All-Everything season, caught three of his receptions for touchdowns and gained 147 yards on the night.
The Sharks took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in eight plays, the last a 23-yard strike to Few in the end zone, to take an early lead. Kenny then drove downfield to the Sharks’ 35 but coughed up the football on a second down play. Daniel Lichlyter recovered for the Sharks and Tronti was back in business but only for three plays, two of which were incomplete passes. After failing to make a first down, Ponte Vedra punted and the Crusaders completed an eight-play drive of their own to tie matters at seven.
The Crusaders forced another Ponte Vedra punt but weren’t able to capitalize on that possession thanks to another fumble – this recovered by Zach Summers at the BK 36. When the Sharks failed to make a first down, Chris Howard booted a 51-yard field goal for what appeared to be a 10-7 Ponte Vedra lead. On the play however, a Kenny defender ran into Howard and the Sharks took the points off the board in favor of the 15-yard penalty and a first down at the BK 20-yard line.
Tronti scampered for 14 yards and a first down at the Kenny 6-yard line. Now it was Ponte Vedra’s time for the critical mistake. Tronti’s pass – with a third and goal at the two – was intercepted and the Sharks came away with nothing.
Bolstered by the turn of events, Kenny’s offense took over, driving the length of the field – aided by a 15-yard targeting penalty – for the go-ahead touchdown and a 14-7 advantage with just 1:25 left in the first half.
That was all the time Tronti would need to get his Sharks into the end zone, this on Few’s second TD reception. Howard, nursing a sore knee suffered on the roughing the kicker play, pushed the PAT wide left so the Sharks went to the locker room on the short end of the 14-13 score.
Kenny again threatened on their first possession of the second half, converting a fake punt into a first down but then failed to make a 50-yard field goal. With the ball back in Tronti’s hands Ponte Vedra took advantage of their wide receiver depth. Kyle Barker caught a pass for 20 yards then Jake Maguire pulled down a Tronti pass for the Sharks third touchdown of the game. Howard’s point after made the score 20-14 Sharks.
The Crusaders’ offense threatened to retake the lead as they drove to a first down at the Sharks 6-yard line but one more critical mistake cost them dearly. The BK runner was stopped short of the goal line, fumbled the ball and could only watch as Parker Shannon recovered in the end zone for the Sharks.
With the chance to put the game out of reach, the Sharks called on Hal Swan to grind out yardage and burn some clock. Swan picked up 26 yards on a pair of runs but a holding penalty put Ponte Vedra in a hole. They ultimately faced a fourth down and 18 at the BK 40. This time it was the Sharks who went with the fake punt and Tronti sent a perfect pass 45 yards downfield into the end-zone right into the arms of you know who –Marshall Few. He even caught the two point conversion to extend the PV lead to 28-14.
It mattered little that the Crusaders would score again but when they failed to win the on-sides kick, the Sharks headed home with the 28-21 victory.
Ponte Vedra will play at Bartram Trail on Oct 21 – a makeup of the game postponed by Hurricane Matthew.