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The Bronson High football romped to a 31-0 shutout over the visiting Spartans from St. Johns Country Day in Orange Park in an entertaining, instructive Spring Classic.
"We did good. We've got a lot of work to do," said Bronson head coach Al Cooksey in a post-game comment that summed up where the Eagles are today.
Bronson had five offensive touchdowns, plus a takeway returned for touchdown that was called back for an illegal block. Kicking, which Cooksey said they had scarcely practiced at all, was not pretty, with only one of five point-after tries going down.
However, the point of a spring game is, as Cooksey said, "to work on stuff."
He was less cavalier about conditioning, repeatedly having to pull players out of the game to have the cramps stretched out of their quads. Defense was outstanding, with two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumbles recovered by the Eagles.
St. Johns was hampered all game with snapping issues, giving sophomore quarterback Sean Bowles less time in the pocket to move the ball.
Bronson had no such troubles. Kelby Barber passed to Virgil Greenlee for the Eagles' first touchdown in the first quarter, and Barber's point-after kick was good for a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles scored twice more before the half, going up by 19, starting with Barber's 10-yard touchdown pass to Terry Smith in the second quarter. That score was set up on a drive that included a catch and two nice carries by Greenlee for 56 yards total, and a 27-yard catch by Rodolfo Contreras.
After the kickoff, the Spartans got backed up to their own 10 on a holding call, but were moving steadily on Bowles' passing and Daniel McCarthy?s running. Just over midfield, though, Bowles aimed deep for Mitch Agee in the flat and Mike Sinclair got the read and stepped in for the pick. Sinclair returned the ball 80 yards for an apparent touchdown, but the ball was brought back to the 50 due to a Bronson penalty. Three plays later, Jesse Waybright connected with Greenlee for a 13-yard TD.
St. Johns reset at the half and put up a stronger defense, but Bronson's big play brought another score in the second drive of the half. It came on a lightning series that saw Barber hit Waybright across the middle for a 42-yard scamper to the 20. Waybright's catch set up the red zone plunge as Smith, Willie Ellison and Contreras bullied their way down inside the 10. Waybright got the ball again for a 7-yard burst into the end zone.
The Spartans got a little closer in the fourth quarter with a four-minute drive that got them to the brink of the Bronson 20 when Contreras intercepted Bowles, letting the Eagles start from their own 30. Greenlee and Ellison then carried the ball 40 yards the other way before the drive stalled and Bronson had to punt back.
This time, the Eagles held St. Johns to three-and-out, and Waybright fair-caught the punt at midfield. After three tries, the Bronson line sprung Waybright loose right down the center for a 40-yard touchdown, making it 31-0 for the Eagles.
DuBose said he was pleased with the way his team played, and not at all bothered by the shutout.
"If I wanted to avoid a shutout, we would have kicked a field goal," he said. "Coach Cooksey's a friend of mine and I know his style of play. I didn't have to worry about him doing anything tricky, and we could just work on our game."
Cooksey had similar thoughts, saying that conditioning would be one of the main issues for Bronson over the summer.
"I was worried about the second half because of fatigue," he said.
The Eagles can start conditioning again the Monday after school lets out, and Cooksey says he'll be looking for the team to get stronger.
"We've got a long heckuva way to go," he said.
They've come a long way already, though.
"A lot of guys played with a lot of heart tonight,"he said. "We played some tough defense I'm proud of us."