ALACHUA, Fl–With each school sporting a new head coach, it was the Newberry Panthers that came out on top, beating Santa Fe High School 22-6 to open up the 2016 football season for both teams.
These two cross-county teams met up for the annual rivalry season-opener; it’s a new season, but there’s nothing new about the history between Newberry and Santa Fe. Last season, the Panthers used their claws to hang on to a close victory 21-12. Nothing was different about this meeting—except for the fact that, both teams debuted under first-year head coaches.Santa Fe, the home team, charged out onto the field with new head coach, Cliff Harrell. Harrell and the Raiders’ stage was set with August football weather, the home-crowd decked out in red and silver, and the success of last year’s season hanging over their helmets.
Covered in blue and yellow from head-to-toe, the Newberry Panthers were also sporting a new head coach in Richard Vester. Vester may have been new to this rivalry, but his Panthers remember how a victory in this game tasted last year…and a number of other years.
Newberry has won eight of the last 10 meetings with their county foe.
After recovering from a couple of early fumbles, the Panthers’ senior fullback Jacquez Jernigan rushed for all three of Newberry’s touchdowns. Jernigan completed his night after a total of 24 carries and 129 yards.
This was a classic cross-county rivalry game and it also drew up to be a classic game scheme. A combination of all defense with bursts of ground pounding run-game.
Time was still left on the clock in the first quarter—and there was already a total of six forced fumbles… three for each team.
Newberry was leading 14-0 in the second quarter and was looking to capitalize before the half, but Jernigan attempted to convert on a halfback option pass and the toss was intercepted by Santa Fe’s Julien Cromwell.
The Raiders were able to make some noise late in the third quarter when Marquez Carter raced passed Newberry’s defense and down the sideline for a 70 yard touchdown run. Carter and the Raiders cut into Newberry’s lead, 22-6 but it was a little too late.
The Panthers defensive front was led by FSU commits, Cory Durden and Ja’len Parks, almost forcing the Raiders to go scoreless for three quarters. Santa Fe’s offense capped off at a total of 151 yards—Newberry’s run-game capped off at 247 yards.
NEXT FRIDAY: Newberry will travel to Gainesville to face Eastside High at Citizen’s Field. Santa Fe will also hit the road to face Madison County.