Sharks Come Short in a Big Rivalry Game
By Johnny Inama
The Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS) Sharks football team had an eventful past week. The week started with several all-district nominations. Senior quarterback, Ben Burk, senior center, Jake Guarnera, junior tight end, Landon Okla, senior defensive back, Joe Mahoney, and senior defensive back, Ridge Richardson, were all nominated for the 2023 FACA all-district team. 12 other players were named as all-district honorable mentions, and head coach, Steve Price, was named the coach of the year. However, the Sharks were not concerned about awards as they were focused on the most highly-anticipated game of the year against their rivals, the Nease High School (NHS) Panthers.
The game started with an opening-drive touchdown from the Panthers, giving them early momentum that is crucial in a rivalry game. The Sharks matched it with a rushing touchdown from junior running back, Brian Case, to tie the game at 7-7 to end the first quarter. The Sharks stole the lead with a field goal to make it 10-7, but the Panthers quickly regained the lead with a passing touchdown on fourth down to make it 14-10 at the half.
The Sharks came out of the half with another rushing touchdown from Case, to give the Sharks a 17-14 lead. Nease tied the game back up with a long field goal to make it 17-17 with time left in the third quarter. The Sharks had a huge momentum-swinging play with a full field pick-six from Richardson, but it was called back due to a penalty. The Sharks did however find the end zone with an 81-yard receiving touchdown to senior wide receiver, Cole Madson, but the extra point was missed, giving them a 23-17 lead going into the fourth quarter. With just a few minutes remaining in the game, Nease scored a go-ahead touchdown and made it a 24-23 game with less than two minutes remaining. The Sharks drove down near the red zone, and called a timeout with just seconds left to go. The game came down to a field goal, but unfortunately for the Sharks, the kick was wide left and the Sharks had suffered their second loss of the season in heartbreaking fashion.
Burk finished 11 for 18 with 217 passing yards and a touchdown, with another 36 yards on the ground. Case finished with 19 attempts for 80 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, with 3 catches and 32 yards through the air. The leading receiver for the Sharks was Madson with 3 catches for 97 yards and a touchdowns, but he also lost one fumble. The lone sack for the Sharks was from junior edge rusher, Robbie Grieco. The Sharks defense forced two turnovers, with an interception from senior defensive back, Ethan Ash, and another interception from Richardson, which would have been a long pick six if not for the penalty on the play. Senior kicker, Evan Redmond finished 1 for 2 on extra points and 2 for 3 on field goals. This was the first loss for the Sharks in over two months, but it was a learning moment for the team. “We learned a lot and are focused on going 1-0 this week,” said Madson on how the team is moving forward following the loss. The loss moved the Sharks record to 7-2 on the season, and they will play their final game of the regular season against a 5-4 Creekside High School before the playoffs start.
Pictured: Mark Holder (12) lining up looking for a catch.