Bartram Trail defeats Christopher Columbus to end streak
ST. JOHNS – A strong Bartram Trail defense and the emergence of sophomore quarterback Riley Trujillo on Friday led the Bears to a 12-6 victory over Miami Columbus in a Class 8A power battle.
Bartram’s experienced defense, led by Michigan commits linebacker Micah Pollard and junior cornerback Sharif Denson, forced three Columbus turnovers (two fumbles and one interception) and recorded a third quarter safety en route to limit the two-goal explorers in the field.
“Our defense is doing a great job of flying into football,” said Bartram Trail 22nd year coach Darrell Sutherland. “They practice the way they play. Coaches say that all the time, but this group really does it and showed it tonight under the Friday night lights.
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Newbie Trujillo had to be at his best against an equally tough Columbus defense.
He rushed for 50 yards, the team’s top, as star athlete Eric Weatherly was hampered by a bad ankle. He also started the key play by finding senior tight end Eli Sutherland for a touchdown on the last play of the first half to give the Bears a 10-0 lead at halftime.
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1. End the Columbus streak
The loss shattered Columbus’ 16-game winning streak over a three-season span, dating back to a loss at Fort. Lauderdale Dillard on October 18, 2019.
The race included the 2019 Class 8A title, the school’s first State Championship, and the South Florida Tri-County Championship after the Explorers withdrew from the Florida High School Athletic State Series. Association due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bartram Trail is 2-0 and Columbus 1-1 this season, with a potential Class 8A title game in December at a venue to be determined.
2. The Bears’ defense plays take-out
The Bartram Trail defense is proving to be as solid as its reputation.
Senior DB Bryce Johnson intercepted Columbus quarterback Fernando Mendoza in game seven of the game. At the end of the first quarter, Pollard sacked Mendoza, forced a fumble that Ezekiel Romero recovered, leading to a Liam Padron field goal of 36 yards and a 3-0 lead.
Senior LB Dylan Chiedo also recovered from a fumble in the third quarter and was one of three Bartram players in the backfield that forced Mendoza to collapse. His late sack prompted a safety to give the Bears a 12-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Bears were deprived of senior lineman Segree Graham (Cincinnati entry) with a hand injury on a unit that allowed just 13 points in two games.
3. Play a class 8A pivot
Bartram Trail is used to taking on top-level opponents, as evidenced by the Bears’ 52-45 loss in 2017 on ESPN2 in Cartersville, Ga.
Bartram faced a similar challenge on Friday against Miami Columbus, one of the hottest teams in Class 8A with a three-season winning streak. The all-male private school explorers have played three state championship games over the past seven years, losing to Mandarin and QB Carson Beck in the 2018 Class 8A final and defeating Apopka in the 2019 final. for their first state title.
Columbus is also used to traveling. They returned by bus at half past seven last Friday from Savannah, Ga., After beating Benedictine Academy 42-27. On Thursday, they made a 5.5-hour trip down I-95 for the game with Bartram and spent the night in Jacksonville before returning home via three buses after Friday’s game.