Tardiness to a football game at Versaggi Field is a transgression punishable by questions about what had happened.
Friday night, St. Joseph scored on its first two offensive snaps to set the tone for a one-sided homecoming victory over St. Johns Country Day. By the time Dylan Thibault and the Flashes were finished, the score was an emphatic 42-0 victory.
Thibault was 13 of 16 for 293 yards and five total touchdowns. His first of three passing touchdowns was a strike that Carter Hinman caught in stride for a 77-yard connection three minutes into the game. Hinman’s first touchdown was one he will not soon forget.
“It means the world. I saw this kid was playing off,” Hinman said. “Coach (Brannon Tidwell) said he would go to me if it happened. I texted my brother a couple days ago and he said ‘Have the game of our life.’ I told him, I will score a touchdown. To score on the first play was awesome.”
Carter’s brother, Thompson, was a quarterback for the Flashes for two years. As Carter sprinted toward the end zone, Thompson was near the top of Versaggi Stadium catching up with friends and the parents of friends.
Friday’s win was the tenth time in 11 games St. Joseph (2-2) was victorious at home. For the second straight game, the Flashes scored three first-quarter touchdowns and racked up 40-plus points.
The only thing that stopped the Flashes was themselves. St. Johns Country Day (1-4) has a freshman quarterback and a team that has a high percentage of boys who had never played organized football until this year.
St. Johns Country Day was playing its first true road game of the season and was staring at a massive deficit early.
A pair of three-and-outs gave the home team excellent field position to begin its assault on the scoreboard.
St. Joseph used the Spartans’ aggressiveness against them to score its second touchdown. Thibault retreated before dumping the ball off to James Drysdale for a screen.
The physical running back/ linebacker handled the rest, rumbling 60-yards up the far sideline to make it 14-0 with 8:03 remaining in the first quarter.
The Flashes needed five plays on their third series to find the end zone.
Thibault rolled to his left, didn’t see what he wanted and slithered through the Spartans defense for a 14-yard run.
The score was possible because Luke Magri refused to be dragged to the turf on third and 22. Magri picked up 23 yards to keep the drive alive for Thibault to excite the crowd.
“No one had the experience of playing very much,” Thibault said afterward. “Coach Tidwell said until we come together and be a true family, we’re not going to have great success. We’ll win some and lose some. We realized we were tired of that. We came together and it’s been two amazing games.”
St. Joseph rocked Ocala St. John Lutheran 41-8 on Sept. 22. Friday night, there were no defensive lapses.
St. Johns was held to 133 yards of offense. Twice the visitors got within the striking range, but could not put points on the board.
Monroe’s 26-yard pass to Justin Guyot with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter gave St. Johns a first down at the St. Joseph 10 yard line, but a fake field goal attempt was snuffed out by St. Joseph.
Later, St. Johns had fourth down at the St. Joseph 24 yard line, but quarterback Max Monroe’s pass went right through the hands of his intended receiver. Monroe is in his second year as a starter and enduring the growing pains that are commonplace for underclassmen in the North Florida Football Conference.
St. Johns Country Day football coach Bill Sellinger said Monroe (7 of 20, 86 yards) is developing every week.
“We’re very, very young. Literally half our team—we only have 21 players, by the way—has never played football,” Sellinger said. “We’re literally starting from Day 1 about what a tackle is and where to line up, what a gap is. It’s a fun challenge, but a big challenge.”
It’s a challenge that was exasperated by the presence of Thibault and Drysdale. The Spartans entered the contest looking to keep Thibault in the pocket and limit Drysdale’s damage running the football. Afterward, Sellenger said both of them played “wonderful tonight. Hats off to them, they are great players.”
Dryadale had three carries for 116 yards and a rushing touchdown. His only reception was the 60-yard pass that he took to the house. Defensively, he also had a tackle for loss.
For St. Joseph’s first-year football coach Brannon Tidwell, it was the most complete performance his team has put in all season. Even with a retooled offensive line — necessitated because right tackle Austin Allison is in the United Kingdom for a wedding — was able to get push against the Spartans 4-3 defense.
The challenge for the Flashes will be replicating their home form on the road.
That opportunity will arise next week in Tallahassee against a 4-1 St. John Paul II team that is coached by former Florida State wide receiver Kez McCorvey.
“There is nothing like playing at home. You have all the fans and the students here, you don’t want to let them down,” Hinman said. “They gave up their Friday night so you have to make it worth it for them.”