BY ANDREAS BUTLER
In a highly anticipated matchup of unbeaten teams, the Atlantic Sharks had no answer for the Rockledge Raiders, losing 41-0 at home in Port Orange on Sept. 28.
The game was also the district 5A-9 opener for both teams.
Rockledge (5-0, 1-0) used a formula that Atlantic usually uses to win, which is a stingy defense and potent rushing attack.
The Raiders also came into the contest ranked No. 2 in Class 5A in the state polls.
Ironically, entering the game, both teams had only given up 39 points in four games.
“It was a big district game. Coach Mayo does a good job with his team in all three phases of the game. We got our guys ready to play. We knew it would be a challenge. Our guys played well, I’m extremely proud,” said Rockledge Head Coach Wayne Younger.
Too many mistakes
Atlantic (4-1, 0-1) simply failed to capitalize on opportunities and made too many mistakes in the game.
In the second quarter, the Sharks missed a field goal after a 13-play drive.
Atlantic also fumbled a kickoff, which led to another score for the Raiders.
Those mistakes led to Rockledge scoring 17 points in the second quarter and a 24-0 halftime lead.
“We can take away some positives from playing a team like this. We gave them three short fields, which is something you can’t do. That was a big difference. We had the effort but came up short,” commented Atlantic Head Coach DJ Mayo.
Dual-threat junior quarterback Aaron Manning led the way for Atlantic with 87 yards passing and 64 yards rushing.
Torrey Gaines also caught 10 passes for 72 yards for the Sharks.
Mayo said, “We do a lot of run pass option. I think Aaron did a good job. We were also shorthanded without Maximus Campbell, our top receiver. We scaled some things back to limit Aaron taking so many hits. Torrey Gaines also stepped up for us.”
Ladarius Tennison (36 yards), Jahim Mayes (30 yards) and Michael Alves (1 yard) each had touchdown runs for the Raiders.
Elias Allen also threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Axzavier Hawkins and Jake Nobles kicked a 40-yard field goal for Rockledge.
The Sharks plan to rebound in their next contest. They play against Deltona on Oct. 4 at home.
“Every week, we need to approach each game as if that game is our Super Bowl. We’ll get back to work. We’ll bounce back,” added Mayo.
Atlantic Head Coach DJ Mayo looks on from the sidelines during last week’s home game against Rockledge.
Week’s top high school games
Deltona (0-5) at Atlantic (41): The Wolves need a win, but the Sharks look to bounce back after a tough loss. This could be one of the more competitive games being played locally with most prep teams playing on the road outside of the area.
Yulee (3-3) at New Smyrna Beach (3-2): Not sure what to expect here between the Hornets and Cudas but this could also be another good matchup.
Mainland (2-2) at Cocoa (41): The Buccaneers face a tall challenge on the road against the Tigers who are a perennial national and state powerhouse. Cocoa is ranked No. 4 in Class 4A.
DeLand (3-1) at Viera (3-2): The Bulldogs will try to find a way to beat a tough Hawks team on the road. Viera’s two losses came from powerhouses Rockledge and Cocoa.
Halifax (3-3) at Seabreeze (32): The Knights have a tall task at hand against the Sandcrabs. A fourth win would be the ‘Crabs’ most since 2017 when they went 4-6. They won just one game in 2018, 2016 and 2015.
Prep Sports Seven Pre-Season Rankings
1. Flagler Palm Coast (5-0), 2. DeLand (3-1), 3. Mainland (22), 4. Spruce Creek (2-2), 5. Atlantic (4-1), 6. University (3-1), 7. Seabreeze (3-2). Others: New Smyrna Beach (3-2).