Ponte Vedra Football Leads Off Season with Preseason Win

By Kennedy Rosendahl

   There is high anticipation building for the 2022 football season at Ponte Vedra High School. Coming off a 4-6 overall record, the Sharks are hoping to improve. Their first preseason game was last Friday, Aug. 19, against the Mandarin Mustangs. The Sharks came out strong on both offense and defense, and started off the 2022-2023 season with a 19-0 win.

   The conditions for Friday night were not ideal. The game was delayed an hour and the first quarter was started in the rain. The Sharks handled it very well though. Coach Scott Owen was impressed with how his team handled the weather. “On a wet and sloppy night, we protected the ball and didn’t fumble or drop passes. We kept out footing and were able to execute in the mud.”

   The Sharks started the game at a high tempo, and scored all their points in the first half. The first touchdown for the Sharks was by junior, Ben Burk, who started as quarterback for the night. He had a six-yard keeper to run across the goal line. He also had two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Burk was 8/13 and had 204 total passing yards to start off his junior season. Next, the sharks hit sophomore, Landon Okla on a 22-yard reception for another touchdown. The extra point was missed on that one, so the score was 13-0. Following that, junior, Cole Madson had a 65-yard receiving touchdown, and increased their lead to 19-0. Madson had four receptions on the night, totaling 110 yards. The team also ran the ball very well for a total of 145 yards on the ground. A huge contributor to the run game was junior, Griffin Owen, who had an impressive night with 12 runs for 57 rushing yards. “We had a solid balance of running the ball and passing the ball,” said Coach Owen. The team came together very well on offense in the first half.

   While offense was impressive, defense still played a huge role. The defense completely shut down the Mustangs. They were only allowed in the redzone once, and even then they didn’t score. The Sharks came ready to play on both sides of the ball. The second half was less eventful, with no touchdowns for either team, but defense remained strong. This comes from hard work in the preseason. Coach Owen said, “We are moving in the right direction but we still have a ways to go to be the best version of ourselves. Consistency is needed to win football games, you can’t be good on one drive and then commit penalties or make mistakes on the next one.” The Sharks defense remained consistent tonight, which helped them get the win.

Junior Landon Okla in between plays

   The Sharks definitely have an advantage coming into this year. Coach Owen explains how they have 15 or so starters returning and an experienced junior class. “We worked hard in the spring and summer and Coach Getchell has things rolling with the offensive and Coach Rivers has stepped in nicely as our defensive coordinator,” said Coach Owen. He explains how the Sharks have some important qualities that every team should have that makes them even more successful. “We have the leadership, our older guys do a great job picking up and encouraging our younger guys. We have a solid foundation and just want to keep building on it every day.” Griffin Owen also touched on this, and said, “We are a lot more mature especially on offense.” He explains how they have a lot of returning players and coaching staff, which benefits them. “We are really coming together as a team,” he added.

   The culture of the game was another huge factor in the Sharks’ success. The students of Ponte Vedra showed their commitment to the sport early this year. The Tank was full, and the student section was loud. This environment definitely helped the players morale and was an exciting way to start the season.  With regular season games about to begin, the Sharks’ team is starting on a high for this year. Their next game is away at Bartram Trail High School on Friday, Aug. 26. Hopefully the Sharks can carry their high energy into the rest of the season, and continue to win. 

Thumbnail- Wyatt Rodgers stands on muddy field after drive down field


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