Homecoming victory for War Eagles
The lights were at their brightest Friday night, Oct. 7, at J.D. Jones Stadium for Wakulla’s clash with the St. John Paul II Catholic High School Panthers. It was a prime time matchup their fans were eager see as these two local heavy weights battled it out on live television in front of an excited homecoming crowd.
JPII would not be a pushover for the War Eagles. “This (is) our time so we ain’t about to let nothing or nobody get in the way” JPII DB Rickey Ransom said earlier in the week when asked about facing the War Eagles.
Nevertheless, Wakulla emerged as the dominant force in the first quarter. Wakulla’s defense held the Panthers to only six points in the first half, while recovering a fumble and forcing multiple punts. The pre-game prediction served as motivation for the War Eagle defense, OLB Todd Williams said. “They inspired me to play my hardest tonight. I take everything people say about me and my team to heart.”
After trading punts on both teams’ first possessions, the War Eagles found the end zone on a Xavier Blake-carried-drive capped off by a 20-yard touchdown run by RB Bradley Kelley. At the end of the first quarter, QB Haden Klees connected with WR Samron Brinson for the 9-yard touchdown strike.
JPII found the end zone in the second quarter with a failed two-point-conversion, facing a 15-6 deficit at halftime.
Just as Rickards did the week prior, JPII wasted little time on the opening drive of the second half and found the end zone. The War Eagles blocked the PAT attempt, maintaining a 15-12 lead over JPII. Wakulla, not fazed by the opening score from JPII, found the end zone on the next drive with a 10-yard touchdown run from Jerimiah Thomas. Bradley Kelley got loose again at the end of the third quarter for his second rushing touchdown of the evening. With the Kelley score, Wakulla held a 29-12 advantage over the Panthers.
Scoring continued in the fourth quarter for the War Eagles with a 12-yard touchdown trot by QB Haden Klees, pushing the score to 36-12. The Panthers were not willing to go home quietly, managing two quick touchdowns, cutting the lead to just 8. After a Linville field goal bringing the score to 39-28, JPII took the ensuing kickoff 99-yards for a touchdown and completing a successful two-point-conversion.
Homecoming was saved,, however by backup QB Owen Klees, in on the kick-off team, recovering the Panthers’ onside kick, with seconds left to secure the win for the War Eagles.
As Wakulla enters the final stage of the season, they will also play two district opponents in three weeks.
“These games mean the most,” QB Haden Klees said about the upcoming matchups with Taylor and Suwannee County, emphasizing how their “intensity has to be at an all-time high the next couple of weeks.”
The War Eagles will travel to Taylor County to open district play this week for a game with playoff implications on the line. Look for Wakulla’s offense to continue to build from their performance this week against Taylor County.