Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Transfers shine for Palmetto Ridge in weather-shortened preseason game


If there’s a tradition as great as high school football on a Friday night, it’s Florida’s weather failing to cooperate in August.

Palmetto Ridge’s incoming transfers Jacquez Carter and Demarcus Townsend shined for the Bears in a preseason game against Ida Baker before the game was called for weather at halftime, with Palmetto Ridge leading 21-7.

Storms which caused so much trouble for many schools throughout Southwest Florida finally reached Cape Coral midway through the break, cutting short a band performance and sending everyone in the stands scurrying for cover, but after about 30 minutes of trying to wait it out, the game was abandoned.

With no game next week, the Bears won’t see live action until Sept. 1 against Riverdale, and there were still some early jitters to work out. A muffed punt return allowed an easy score for Baker, and the shotgun snaps to Carter were shaky at times.

“We’re a little sloppy still, it’s just little things on every play,” Palmetto Ridge coach Chris Toukonen said. “We had some good plays, the pieces are there we’ve just got to keep getting better and solidify some things on offense, defense, and special teams.”

Carter threw for a touchdown and ran for another, the run a 95-yard showstopper late in the second quarter after the Bears’ Evan Gonzalez picked off Baker’s Chris Kovacs near the goal line. The Lely transfer also threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Bailey Anderson straight up the seam in the first quarter.

Perhaps his biggest highlight reel play didn’t end up counting. After chasing down an errant snap deep behind the line of scrimmage, Carter took off running and reached the endzone from 32 yards out, on a play which effectively started near midfield. But a flag nullified the play.

“He’s a heck of a football player,” Toukonen said. “We probably had eight or nine bad snaps, which threw off our timing, but when things break down he’s a hard player to stop.”

The Bears other big transfer, senior running back Demarcus Townsend by way of Gulf Coast, ran for 81 yards and a score on 10 carries, including 36 yards on an audacious fake punt in the second quarter. Townsend finished off the drive, part of the same possession with Carter’s waved off score, with an 11-yard run up the middle virtually untouched.

Baker’s Shamorie Mason scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter from Kovacz, set up by a muffed punt from Palmetto Ridge.

“Where we are as a program, we need to get stronger in the weight room, but I’ll tell you this: from where we are now to where we were in the spring game we’ve made a lot of improvements,” Baker coach Todd Nichols said. “I was happy with the way our kids plays, and once we put the game film on and coach them up, we’ll stand a good chance against anyone we take the field with.”

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