A trio of Bay County teams found reason for optimism Friday night, while one night earlier another was dealt a devastating blow with the loss of a senior leader.
Mosley and Bozeman bounced back from opening-week losses to notch victories over Bay and Wewahitchka, while North Bay Haven’s 35-0 triumph over Franklin County put the Buccaneers in the win column for the first time since 2017.
Rutherford went into the weekend with decidedly less enthusiasm, with its 42-18 defeat at the hands of Vernon compounded by the loss of leading rusher Montell Bouie.
The senior running back, who led the Rams in rushing in 2018, suffered a dislocated ankle late in the second quarter on a two-point conversion. Rams coach Loren Tillman confirmed Saturday that the injury will require surgery and end Bouie’s season.
Running backs running wild
Week 2 featured some big performances by area ball-carriers, perhaps none more impressive than Sneads’ Calvin Stringer, who went for 250 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries.
His wasn’t the biggest total of the week, however. That honor belongs to North Bay Haven’s Cam Gant, who totaled 281 yards on 25 carries with four touchdowns.
Gant now has 447 rushing yards through two games on a whopping 8.3 yards per attempt.
Vernon star K’wan Powell added his second 100-yard outing of the season by going for 128 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries in a 42-18 win over Rutherford.
Powell, a three-star prospect who holds an offer from Florida State, isn’t the only highly-touted 1A running back in the Panhandle.
Graceville’s Xavian Sorey is a four-star athlete with offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Clemson, and Auburn, though it’s his teammate, Marianna transfer Jeremiah Castro, who stole the show Friday.
Castro rushed for 135 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown, in a 6-0 road victory over Chipley. Castro leads the Tigers this season with 286 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Gardner’s great start
Barry Gardner didn’t get the Graceville head coaching job until July 22. That meant no spring season and barely any summer workouts before beginning fall practice.
The Tigers have hardly looked like a team in flux, however, starting 2-0 with a pair of road wins over Bay by eight points and Chipley by six.
Graceville will get to be undefeated for at least one more week – the Tigers have a bye in Week 3 – and has a real shot at being 4-0 heading into what could be a big 1A showdown in Port St. Joe on Sept. 27.
On the horizon
Labor Day on Monday means a short week, which means no Thursday games for area teams.
Friday’s action will feature only one matchup of undefeated teams with Marianna playing at Blountstown. There will also be one matchup of winless teams, as Cottondale heads to Bristol to take on Liberty County.
Mosley and Arnold have road tilts against Wakulla and Walton before getting into district competition on Sept. 13 when the Dolphins host Pace and the Marlins play at West Florida.