The North Marion Colts had a solid spring practice however that did not translate into a good showing in their spring game against the Gainesville Purple Hurricanes. North Marion was sluggish on offense from the start and never found a rhythm until the game was no longer in doubt.
The only facet of the game that we did not see was the special teams as each team started at their own 20 yard line, punts were not fielded, extra points and field goal attempts were without a rush.
North Marion only managed 3 yards of total offense in the first half while Gainesville put up 21 points behind the arm of quarterback Mark Cato. Cato tossed three touchdown passes in the first half, hitting standout receiver Chris Thompson twice in the first quarter on back-to-back possessions and then hitting Case Harrison for another on their final drive of the first half for the 21-0 halftime lead.
The Purple Hurricanes would continue to show glimpses of a team looking to make another deep run in the Florida 6A classification playoffs in the second half when running back Justin Crawford took a reverse 44-yards for a touchdown and then later caught an 11-yard TD pass from Jack Cornell to give Gainesville a comfortable 35-0 lead through three quarters.
Gainesville’s number one running back Raphael Webb lead the Purple Hurricane rushing attack finishing with over 80 yards rushing on the day. Webb had several big runs over 15 yards that set up Purple Hurricane touchdowns and is being talked about favorably in recruiting circles.
North Marion would finally put together a drive late in the fourth quarter. Reggie Wilkerson, who played quarterback from start to finish, would rip off runs of 24 and 20 yards and then Ian Neal would have a big 27 yard run to the Gainesville 3. Neal would then punch it in from 3 yards out on the next play for the Colts lone touchdown of the day for the final score of 35-7. Neal has been battling an ankle injury throughout the spring but showed signs of being a dynamic back for the Colts offense going into next season.
“We were exploited, Gainesville High did a great job of pointing our weakness, they are a great football team they go deep in the playoffs every year, put a lot of kids in college and have some great athletes on both sides of the ball, big up front on the line and they were more physical than us tonight”, North Marion Head Coach Craig Damon said afterwards.
Damon added, “They gave us a great evaluation of where we are and what we need to work on this summer during the off-season to get better. We can take this and use it as a humbling moment so we are not too full of ourselves and hopefully get it turned around before the season starts next year. All of the mistakes we made are correctable things that we can work on to get better at and that is what you want from this game you want to be able to see things and areas that you are weak in and get those things corrected”
North Marion will open their 2012 season with three consecutive home games beginning August 31st against rival Trinity Catholic, Vanguard visits the next week with Forest closing out the season opening home stand.
Other Florida Spring Game Scores:
Fletcher 24 Vanguard 12
Oakleaf 17 Newberry 16
Countryside 38 Tarpon Springs 3
Eustis 23 Lake Weir 0
Sunlake 21 Wiregrass Ranch 3