Week 3 football preview

Team identities continue to take shape

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Both Ponte Vedra and Nease are at home this week with the Sharks hosting Baker County and the Panthers welcoming in Orange Park at 7 p.m. Sept. 10.

Despite both games being against non-district opponents, it is getting to the point in the season, three weeks in, that teams begin to find out their identity.

For the Sharks, that identity starts with the play on the defensive side of the ball, where they have allowed just 13 points in the first two games.

Head coach Steve Price said going into the season that he wanted to instill a sense of physicality, and it appears that it has not taken long for the defense to reflect that.

This week will be another stiff test, as the Sharks face a Baker County squad that has averaged nearly 30 points per game early on.

Junior Cam Smith is one of the Wildcats’ playmakers and is the team’s leading rusher and receiver, including coming off a performance against Viera where he racked a total of 208 yards of offense.

The Sharks offense came alive last week with 34 points against Episcopal thanks to a productive running game.

They have options at running back, but it has been seniors Bobby Kegley and Mikey Stephens that have proven to be the reliable ballcarriers for the offense through two weeks.

Nease will play at home for the second straight week when Orange Park comes to town.

It is a bounce-back opportunity for the Panthers, whose coaches and players admitted were not as focused as they needed to be last week against Creekside.

If the offense can prevent fumbling the ball and the receiving corps limits the drops, the Panthers have the potential to be one of the most explosive offenses in the area.

Even with the mistakes a week ago, starting quarterback Marcus Stokes threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns.

The Raiders are led by a dynamite running back in JoJo Restall, who is averaging 205 yards per game and has the speed to break a long run anytime he touches the ball.

One of the keys to the game for the Panthers is how well the Nease front seven, especially its strong linebacking corps, can contain Restall from doing the heavy damage he is capable of.

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