VERO BEACH — With the first hint of Fall having settled over the Treasure Coast, a comfortably mild evening was on-tap as the St. Ed’s football team burst onto the field for their traditional Homecoming game.
The Pirates went on to clobber the South Florida HEAT 51-6 Friday night before a delighted crowd at jam-packed Pirate Stadium. The gathering represented every segment of the barrier island school’s past and present.
The football game capped a festive week that included a pregame alumni barbeque, the induction of the inaugural class of seven into the St. Ed’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and a celebration of the girls lacrosse state championship teams of 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Then came the signature event – football. The outcome was never in doubt.
The Pirates found the end zone early and often. Head coach Bill Motta began substituting freely late in the first quarter and completely called off the dogs with the clock mercifully running for most of the second half.
The tide turned immediately when Kollin Kite intercepted a tipped pass to set the Pirates up at the HEAT’s 40-yard line with less than a minute into the game.
Two plays later, running back J.D. McGee converted the turnover into six points with a 36-yard romp.
Dillon Benson added the extra point. He would be seven-for-seven on the night.
After forcing a short punt, St. Ed’s started their next possession where the offense spent all but one play of the first half – in HEAT territory. From the 34, a Collier Proctor-to-Kite pass gained 12 yards before running back Jamari Williams sliced through the left side of the line and used a spin-move to elude a defender on his way to a 22-yard TD run.
It was 14-0 with 8:34 still to go in the first quarter.
The first two scoring “drives” took two plays each and covered 40 and 34 yards respectively.
The Pirates would tally two more TD’s before the end of the first quarter. Advantageous field position contributed to both.
Running back Cortez Brown went the final six to finish off 42 yards on eight plays. A short time later, J.D. McGee fielded an end zone punt at the SFH 40 and returned it 31 yards. Williams barreled in from the nine on the next play to stretch the lead to 28-0.
The Pirates had an unheard of fifth possession before the first quarter ended. A fumble in the red zone ended the unabated onslaught several minutes into the second period, but not for long.
Pinned deep on their side of the field, SFH quarterback Nick Fifelski faded into his own end zone searching for a receiver.
Under heavy pressure, he dumped the ball off with no receiver nearby and was charged with intentional grounding – a safety by rule – taking the score 30-0.
Thirteen seconds later, J.D. McGee took the ensuing free kick 56 yards for six more – score 37-0.
Sean Berry’s interception return to the SFH 10 preceded a David Cicco one-yard TD plunge – now 44-0.
Berry’s second interception return to the SFH 28 gave Jacob Campbell an opportunity to cash in from the five. It was now 51-0 at the 4:32 mark of the second quarter.
The Pirates had scored seven TD’s never having to move the ball more than 42 yards on offense.
The first half, and the game for that matter, was closed out by SFH on offense with nine plays covering 80 yards for a TD. A 38-yard Fifelski-to-David Fagot aerial connection proved to be the highlight of the game for the beleaguered visitors. The extra point was botched by a high snap.
Homecoming queen Meagan Mayo and her court, all elegantly attired, were introduced at halftime.
Thankfully, the uneventful and scoreless second half went by quickly.
Afterwards, coach Motta reflected on the game.
“We wanted to put our best foot forward, play well and not make any mental errors,” he said. “I think we got that accomplished. Other than that, the second half was a little more fun for our boys. We got our backups into the game and the guys (starters) on the sideline had a good time watching the future of Pirate football.”
Motta also had some nice words for the atypical competition his team faced on this night.
“They’re a first year program and doing the best they can,” he said. The acronym HEAT stands for Home Education Athletic Teams, a not-for-profit organization working with homeschooling families.
St. Ed’s remains unbeaten at 6-0.