J. Thomas Perdue
WOODBURY — Last year, the Flint River Wildcats approached homecoming on a losing streak and lost a close game to rival Heritage. This year, the Wildcats showed, once again, that they have been completely renovated since last season. Going into homecoming on a three-game winning streak, they defeated John Paul II Catholic High School, a team from Tallahassee, Florida.
Flint River’s night could not have started better, as quarterback Seth Short hit receiver Russell Durand on a 62-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. Later in the quarter, senior Caleb Harker found the endzone on a one-yard touchdown run. John Paul’s passing attack wore on FRA’s defense, not by picking up consistent yards, but by making it a long game. John Paul got back in the game with a nine-yard touchdown pass on their next drive, but Short hit Durand again with a touchdown pass of their own, this one for 73 yards. The teams went back-and-fourth for a while, with John Paul scoring again before halftime, making the score 28-18, Flint River.
Despite the lead, the first half was frustrating for the Wildcats. There were special teams miscues (failed to recover an onside kick, two big punt returns by JPII), and they had only 47 rushing yards. Flint River started the half with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Short to receiver Patrick McGinn. The next two JPII drives ended with interceptions by Caleb Harker, and the Wildcats’ running back, Will Couch, scored from 44 yards making the score 42-18, late in the third.
FRA was in cruise control from that point on. They continued to score and put up 266 rushing yards in the second half. The last score came from senior offensive tackle Stuart Gregg, who got his first career touchdown from one yard out. The final was FRA 56, JPII, 33.
Flint River had one of its best offensive performances of the year, and the defense was good again, getting 5 takeaways. Will Couch had another great performance on the ground, with 210 yards on 17 carries. He, along with Harker had two rushing TDs. Seth Short was good through the air, throwing for 212 yards and three touchdowns.
FRA head coach Jason Carerra said after the game, “John Paul is a great team. They put a lot of stress on our defense with a great passing game. They will beat a lot of people with their quarterback and receivers. Our guys played hard till the end and executed our game plan. Will Couch and our offensive line took over the second half, running the football to finish off the Panthers from John Paul.”
Flint River is now 6-2 for the year (one win because of Arlington forfeit), and will play their final road game against Young Americans Christian Academy next week in Conyers. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.