SEBRING - Not even the '72 Dolphins were this good.
Sebring concluded its junior varsity football season Thursday night with an 8-7 win over Clewiston at Firemen's Field. The victory gave the Blue Streaks their second straight 8-0 campaign and brought their overall win streak to 18 games, which dates back to 2011.
"This is the beginning of a great football foundation at Sebring High," junior varsity coach Dustin Woods said to his team in the postgame huddle. "Winning is contagious. And you guys have started to create this earthquake, and these are tremors that will follow you throughout the rest of your high school career."
"Y'all are a part of something big."
From the outset, it appeared as if the Blue Streaks would rout the Tigers. Running back Jalen Williams found his comfort zone early and broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run just two minutes into the first quarter. Quarterback Bobby Mathis added the two-point conversion and before Clewiston could even blink, Sebring was up 8-0.
The Tigers responded with a time-consuming drive, but turned the ball over in the red zone when Sebring's Jordan Acevedo intercepted a wayward pass.
Sebring failed to capitalize on the turnover and was forced to punt after a lengthy drive. Playing aggressively on fourth down, the Tigers got the jump off the snap and blocked the punt, scooping up the ball and returning it for 40-yard touchdown. After adding the extra-point, the Tigers still trailed, but only by one, 8-7.
Following another scoreless Sebring possession, Clewiston put together a quick drive to try and get some more points before the half.
On their first possession, the Tigers ran a trick play, tossing the ball to a wide receiver in the back field before he threw a bomb to another receiver down field for a 30-yard gain.
But despite scoring on its next play, a false start brought back Clewiston's touchdown; and another pre-snap penalty backed the Tigers up even further. Sebring blitzed on the next play, flushing Clewiston's quarterback out of the pocket, and Wyatt Kinslow picked off another wobbly pass to snuff the Tigers scoring threat.
From there, the game turned into a slugfest, as each team kept the ball on the ground. Sebring continued to hand the ball to its workhorse, Williams, who continued to chew up yardage. Despite splitting some carries with fellow tailback Sammy Smith and losing a few carries to Mathis, Williams still finished with close to 150 yards rushing.
Late in the game, however, with Sebring facing a critical third down, Kyree Watson had his number called. Watson earned arguably the 10 toughest yards of the night, thrashing up field to secure a first down so the Streaks could run out the clock.
Sebring lined up in the victory formation for the remaining plays, and after a knee from Mathis, the Streaks enjoyed a jubilant moment at midfield field to celebrate another perfect season.
While there are no more games left on the junior varsity schedule, varsity coach LaVaar Scott said that some players who have proven their worth might be moved up to the varsity level before season's end.
Scott let his players know, however, that moving up to the next level is a privilege, not a right.
"This is just the start of the journey," he said. "Not everybody finishes. It easy to begin it, but not everyone wants to put in the hard work, both on the field and in the classroom. It will be up to you to get it done. But there's a reason why we're 5-1 right now, and that's because we have a solid foundation in junior varsity."