Gatewood, Bartram Trail offense stay red hot to down Clay

A Category 5 hurricane couldn’t deter them.


A bizarre week with a fraction of normal rest didn’t stop them.

Now, it looks like no one can slow Bartram Trail’s offense down.

As Hurricane Irma took aim at Florida, the Bears and their two-headed quarterback monster delivered the roar before the storm.

Senior quarterbacks Joey Gatewood and Riley Smith handled the passing, Devin Ellison pounded out tough yards and a high-flying offense carried Bartram Trail to its second straight victory, topping visiting Clay 49-28 at Bear Stadium Thursday night.

Gatewood passed for 161 yards, Smith ran for a score and running back Ellison dashed for three touchdowns.

Tonight, the Bartram Trail offense looked every bit as good as advertised.

“It’s really teamwork,” Bartram Trail coach Darrell Sutherland said. “The thing you see on the film that jumps out is guys blocking downfield for each other, guys selling out on fakes, doing whatever they can to help each other score.”

Not bad for a football team achieving a feat that even baseball pitchers don’t attempt: taking the field on two days’ rest.

“I’ve never done that, but it was fun,” Ellison said. “We did a great job of handling that pressure.”

In their second game in 72 hours — Bartram Trail had just halted the long home winning streak of Daytona Beach Mainland in an even more unusual Monday tilt — the Bears (2-1) gave the school a moment of respite in a week of tension.

On Saturday morning, the school turns into an emergency shelter for residents displaced by the Category 5 hurricane. Earlier in the day, local authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation to begin Saturday for portions of St. Johns County.

For one night, though, those concerns faded into the background.

To start the night, Gatewood showed why he’s attracted the attention of SEC power Auburn, leading a methodical 78-yard march capped with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Hutchinson.

Drive after drive, Bartram Trail found the end zone, behind a mauling offensive front. Sutherland gave credit to the blockers and offensive line coach Robert Dean for the unit’s success, and Ellison agreed.

“I love those guys, Brad (Cecil), Tristen (Sheptock), Mac (Borngesser), Nick (McAbee), all of them,” Ellison said. “They blocked their tails off for me. Without them, the 49 points wouldn’t even happen.”

“I’m blessed to have an O-line like the one I have,” Gatewood said.

Clay quarterback Caleb Eason kept the Blue Devils (1-2), state semifinalists last season in Class 5A, in the contest for much of the night by passing for three touchdowns and 228 yards.

Aundre Carter also rushed for 110 yards for Clay.

But Bartram Trail pulled away with two touchdowns in a 36-second span in the third quarter, sandwiching touchdown runs by Gatewood and Ellison around the second onside kick recovery of the night by senior Timothy Adams.

The Bears’ offense is officially burning beyond red hot. They’ve now scored 129 points in their three games thus far, lining up against two Florida regional finalists and the state champion of Georgia.

The next test: to keep that going into their district schedule, which kicks off next week against Oakleaf — on the other side of the storm.

“I’ve been really proud of our guys and their maturity, their ability to focus,” Sutherland said. “We talk about WIN as an acronym, What’s Important Now. Come out and play football, and have fun being around each other, and when you leave, go be about your family and helping the community.”