Sharks ground and pound to spring game victory

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The football season may be played in the fall, but it begins in the final semester of the previous school year with spring practice, and it could not have begun much better for the Ponte Vedra Sharks.

The Sharks capped weeks of spring practice and drills with a 22-14 victory in its spring game on the road against the Beachside Barracudas May 25.

Both teams only played their varsity squads for the first half and as a result did not keep score in the second half, as the junior varsity players took centerstage after halftime.

“We weren’t real sharp in everything and we’ve got some stuff to work on, but at the end of the day I was really pleased with the effort and coachability of these guys,” Ponte Vedra head coach Steve Price said. “It’s why I love coaching at PV.”

The Sharks looked the part, especially early on as they came out and established a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball with a ground game that the Barracudas had little answer for.

Ponte Vedra’s offensive line appeared in midseason form as they were working together as a cohesive unit and creating holes left and right for the Sharks’ backfield members.

Ben Burk returns at quarterback and will be a senior in the fall and is excited for the potential of the offense heading into next year.

“Ben is a heck of a player, and he started as a sophomore, so he’s played a lot of football,” Price said.

Burk understands that it all starts with the confidence the entire team has in the five guys along the offensive front.

“Those guys are just incredible and having guys like that just makes all the difference for us,” Burk said. “We’ve got a great group of guys that have been playing together for a long time now, and it’s really starting to show.”

One of those players includes incoming senior Jake Guarnera, who will be making the transition from tackle to center and did a nice job holding his own during the spring game.

Landon Okla showed his versatility as a tight end as he not only blocked and ran routes, but also took a handoff and ran for a touchdown to open the game’s scoring in the first quarter.

“We’ve got a lot of good new plays ready to go this fall, and it’s going to be fun to see it all come together,” Okla said. “I’ve been working on a little bit of everything to get ready, from speed to lifting, it’s all about getting better everywhere.”

The defense then did their part to keep the Sharks out front, as it took Beachside a couple of drives and quick punts before they were able to move the ball even somewhat against the Sharks.

One of the more interesting matchups of the night pitted Sharks’ junior cornerback Joe Mahoney against one of the Barracuda’s top receivers who had a height advantage against Mahoney and pretty much everyone on the field.

However, Mahoney stood tall and used excellent technique to deny receptions on several occasions, including a couple fades in the end zone.

After coming on last season, it will be fun to see how Mahoney continues to develop not on with his play on the field, but as a leader off it.

Ponte Vedra Sharks, football, spring game, Beachside Barracudas

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