Bartram Trail crushes Creekside in District 3-7A opener

Creekside is undefeated when it allows fewer than 35 points in the first half. Bartram Trail scored 35 first half points — to elicit a running clock — en route to a 49-0 victory in District 3-7A action on Friday night in St. Johns.


Riley Smith’s 1-yard dart to Gunnar Hitzeman with 5:58 remaining in the first half capped off the fifth touchdown drive in five possessions for the Bears (3-2, 1-0). The only time the home team did not find paydirt was on a three-and-out in the last two minutes of the first half.

Bartram Trail running back Devin Ellison only needed seven carries to run for 126 yards and two touchdowns. The junior’s 10-yard run on fourth and short three minutes into the game was the kindling for the Bears offense. One play later, he was sprinting through the Creekside defense for a 56-yard touchdown to open the scoring.

Creekside (2-3, 0-1) had an opportunity to intercept a Bears pass on the second offensive snap from scrimmage, but a Knights defensive back could not make the play. Instead, the Bears had third down and eventually converted with Ellison.

Ellison’s third-straight 100-yard rushing performance of the season was one facet of an offense that scored touchdowns on three of its first eight snaps and, unofficially, accounted to 429 yards.

“It’s obviously because of the line. The quarterbacks are carrying out their reads. All the receivers are carrying out their fakes, but the line is blocking their tails off. Hats off to all of them,” Ellison said. “If I wasn’t broke, I would take them out for dinner. But, I’m broke. I need to get a job. But, I love those guys. They block their tails off for me.”

The Bears have outscored the Knights 143-7 in the three meetings since Creekside surprised them in 2014 and prematurely ended their season.

During that period, the first-team defense has not allowed a point.

The first possession of the second half may have best exemplified the gulf between the two programs.

A Bartram Trail fumble on the opening kickoff meant Creekside had first down at the Bears 28-yard line. Four plays later, Bartram Trail’s Parker Devine sacked the Knights quarterback for a loss of five yards. This one play after a hot snap on third down knocked the visitors out of field goal range.

Taking over at their own 37, the home team only needed five plays to score their sixth touchdown of the night. Quarterback Riley Smith bobbled the snap, but still had enough time in the pocket to loft a 23-yard touchdown pass to the back corner of the end zone for senior wide receiver Jake Navin to make it 42-0.

“That was the first time I caught a touchdown on varsity,” Navin said. “I caught a few on JV, but to finally catch one on varsity, after catching a bunch in practice, I didn’t know how it felt. But, it felt good.”

Navin wasn’t the only one to catch his first varsity touchdown Friday night. Wide receiver Kevin Maurer’s 39-yard touchdown pass with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter gave Bartram Trail a 14-0 advantage.

Maurer played a big role in the two-play drive. His blocking on the near sideline allowed quarterback Joey Gatewood to pick up nine yards on the first play of the series.

“What Coach (Darrell) Sutherland teaches us is to be excited about helping out your teammates and blocking as much as you’re scoring,” Maurer said. “We’re after it all game trying to find those key blocks for those big runs that we have.”

Receiving touchdowns from Maurer, Navin and Griffin Helm all came from Creekside turning the ball over on downs in advantageous field positions. A fourth Creekside turnover, late in the third quarter, set up Gatewood’s 1-yard touchdown run with 6:14 remaining to conclude the scoring.

“We went for a few fourth downs early and that was my fault,” said Creekside football coach Sean McIntyre. “Our defense was playing OK. We missed a few tackles and busted a few coverages, but, they were playing OK and we should have punted. That’s me being a little too aggressive in my first year as a head coach. I probably should have punted the ball and played safe.”

McIntyre said Creekside (2-3, 0-1) knew Bartram Trail was going to put them in situations where the Knights needed to make plays 1-on-1 on offense and defense. Friday night that did not happen.

Unofficially, Creekside had 31 yards of offense in the first half and was 2 of 10 for 18 yards through the air. The running clock meant Creekside didn’t have time to establish any offensive rhythm in the second half with its drives resulting in a turnover on downs, fumble and an incompletion to end the game.

Quarterback Tai Lavatai and running J.T. Wood were both held to 12 rushing yards for the Knights.

Meanwhile, Bartram Trail ran for 255 yards. Ellison led the way with 126 rushing yards, freshman A.J. Jones had 53 yards, quarterbacks Riley Smith and Joey Gatewood ran for 29 yards apiece, and junior Brandon Vespi ran for 18 yards in the second half. Smith finished 7 of 9 for 96 yards, and touchdown passes to Helm, Hitzeman and Navin.

“We put all the pressure on them by scoring first,” explained wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson, who had two catches for 32 yards. “We can relax with our play-calling, play our game and do what we do best.”

Bartram Trail 49, Creekside 0

Bartram Trail 21 14 7 7 — 49

Creekside 0 0 0 0 — 0

First Quarter

BT: Devin Ellison 56-yard run (Dudley kick), 9:03.

BT: Joey Gatewood 39-yard pass to Kevin Maurer (Dudley kick), 4:38.

BT: Riley Smith 39-yard pass to Griffin Helm (Dudley kick), 2:24.

Second Quarter

BT: Ellison 20 yard run (Dudley kick), 10:47.

BT: Smith 1-yard pass to Gunnar Hitzeman (Dudley kick), 5:58.

Third Quarter

BT: Smith 23-yard pass to Jake Navin (Mason Cox kick), 5:50.

Fourth Quarter

BT: Gatewood 1-yard run (Cox kick), 6:14.

Records: Bartram Trail 3-2, 1-0; Creekside 2-3, 0-1.


RUSHING: Creekside, Lavatai 13-22, Wood 5-13. BT, Ellison 7-126, Jones 6-52, R. Smith 4-29, Gatewood 6-25.

Passing: Creekside, Forcier 3-5-19, Lavatai 1-11-12. BT, R. Smith 6-8-97, Gatewood 5-8-95.

Receiving: Creekside, Wood 2-12, Mohr 1-12, Collins 1-7. BT, Helm 2-50, Maurer 1-38, Hutchinson 2-33, Navin 1-23, Ellison 2-20.

Matanzas 17 Nease 14

Nease 0 7 0 7 — 14

Matanzas 7 0 10 0 — 17

First Quarter

M: T. Steward 14 run (Del Castillo kick)

Second Quarter

N: Staples 20 run (Hartley kick)

Third Quarter

M: Steward 36 pass from Thomas

M: Del Castillo 28 FG

Fourth Quarter

N: Ragin 13 pass from Staples (Hartley kick)


Rushing: Nease: Westcott 19-82, Staples 8-15, Sheffer 4-7, Bunkosky 1-2. Matanzas: T. Steward 8-51, Thomas 5-(-9), Austin 1-3, Powell 9-18, C Steward 3-14.

Passing: Nease: Staples 7-12-3: 65. Matanzas: Thomas: 15-26-1: 278.

Receiving: Nease: Bunkosky Sheffer 1-7, Ragin 2-23. Matanzas: Mathews 3-29, Miley 2-30, T. Steward 4-84, Riley 4-75,Powell 2-60.