The high school football team with the best record in Alachua County celebrated homecoming in a big way.
Newberry High School not only welcomed the classes of 1994 and 1989 back to campus, but they also welcomed their Panthers (5-1) with a sold-out crowd to cheer on the team on a four-game win streak.
Their opponent was rival Williston High School (1-4), who won last year’s game 42-28 in Williston.
Newberry was committed to making sure that was a different story.
Leading Up to the Game
Both teams came in looking strong on offense and defense.
Of course, Newberry was riding a four-game win streak and preparing for a Williston team that started 0-3 before putting up 46 on Hamilton County a week ago. The main flaw with Williston was their defense, allowing nearly 24 points per game. This has been made up for by the offense, which has been scoring more points every game.
Newberry has been firing on all cylinders on their win streak. After losing to Santa Fe in week one, they have also been putting up more and more points, culminating in a 66-14 drubbing of Taylor High school, a game in which they scored 59 points in the first half.
Both teams had promise and reason to believe they could win.
Scoring Early and Scoring Often
That heading really only applies to Newberry.
How early did they score? Newberry was winning 6-0 after 10 seconds courtesy of a Camron Cohens opening kickoff touchdown.
Head coach Edward Johnson said the sophomore’s big play allowed the team to have more confidence.
“To get that early from Cam, that early jolt of energy,” Johnson said, “the team fed on it.”
How often did they score? At halftime, Newberry was winning 49-8.
Johnson said that even though the defense was the key early in the season, he cannot deny that scoring 66 and 55 in back-to-back weeks is something he can get used to.
“It’s fun, and it’s tough,” Johnson said. “We’re lucky and blessed enough to have two units. We can run our tempo on offense and our guys are fresh to go on defense.”
At first glance, one would think Newberry’s offense exploded and Williston’s defense imploded.
Newberry Quarterback Makai Johnson pioneered that monster first half from the Panthers. Two passing touchdowns supplemented by two rushing touchdowns put the team in a comfortable position against the Red Devils.
Tack on another touchdown pass in the second half and Makai Johnson had well over 100 yards in the air and three touchdowns for a clearly run-first offense. It helps when Kobe Delima and Laverne Woods have touchdowns themselves, and Camron Cohens gets his second touchdown of the game on a 26-yard reverse with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Williston was just unable to burst through the Newberry defensive line with the run game. Some pass plays allowed the offense to get going and allow Lamonte Terrell to score Williston’s only points of the game in the second quarter.
This same defense had a pick-six for Newberry’s second score of the game, a score which took the wind out of Williston’s sails with not even ten minutes gone in the game.
It was a stark contrast from the team that played so well against Hamilton County a week ago.
Williston will look to bounce back against Wildwood (2-3), and Newberry will take on the Hamilton County (0-6) team that lost to Williston to extend their win streak.