VERO BEACH — St. Edward’s preseason classic loss to Trinity Prep of Winter Park by a score of 14-3 could easily have gone the other way if not for a few key breakdowns – and an offense that struggled for most of the game after the first quarter.
The crowd at Pirate Stadium watched the home team take the opening possession from their own 28 down to the Saints 16 yard line before stalling and settling for a 32 yard Dillon Benson field goal.
Keeping the ball on the ground for 10 plays and mixing in four passes, the Pirates took 6:27 off the clock before Trinity’s offense saw the ball. Key plays that kept the drive on track were a Jamari Williams nine yard run and a nine yard Collier Proctor to J.D. McGee completion on a screen pass.
Unfortunately, that was the entire story on offense.
The defense forced Trinity into a three-and-out on their first possession, and didn’t give up a first down until a minute to go in the first quarter. Things then got a bit sloppy for both teams as the 3-0 lead held early into the second frame. Three consecutive penalties pushed Trinity’s offense back to their own 10 yard line, forcing a punt. The Pirates first penalty of the game during the punt gave the Saints much better field position and a booming re-kick pinned the Pirates back inside their own 20. The penalty and loss of field position proved costly.
Another penalty, this time on offense, pushed the Pirates inside the 10. Proctor scrambled to his left and was about to be sacked in the end zone when he tried a desperation pass that was intercepted for a gift touchdown. Despite dominating on defense, the Pirates fell behind for good at 7-3 with 7:37 remaining in the second quarter. With a little over three minutes to go before halftime, a direct snap sailed over the head of punter Dillon Benson. The Saints took over just 20 yards from pay dirt, but the Pirates defense stiffened, forcing a field goal attempt that missed from 34 yards out as halftime approached.
The Pirates defense pitched a shutout in the third quarter. However the Saints Ryan Hinkley applied the dagger with a 42 yard burst up the middle early in the fourth. On the next play, Hinkley knifed into the end zone from two yards out, making the final 14-3.
Pirates head coach Bill Motta was a bit philosophical afterwards.
“It was a great first week out,” he said. “You do some good things, you do some bad things. You’re encouraged when you leave after a game you had a chance to win. We had a good effort on both sides of the ball.”
About the offense that started in such promising fashion, Motta said, “we broke down a little after that (first drive)and didn’t sustain the blocks that we needed. Our pass blocking needs to get a lot better. Consistency is lacking, definitely, on both sides of the ball.”
The Pirates travel to Haines City for an encounter with Landmark Christian School next Friday night.
For the third straight year, St. Ed’s will play a revamped regular season schedule. They will be classified as an independent by the FSHAA and compete in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference. This alignment should bring about a greater degree of parity than the district assignments in class 1A and 1B of 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Athletic Director Jeffrey Lamscha sees the realignment as temporary.
“The move to the conference was quite simply because our school population will be smaller this year and at this time it is best for us to play a conference schedule rather than play in the district we were in,” he said. “It is hoped that in the next few years we will get back into a district.”