FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island High senior quarterback Dean Hyams said before the season began that the goal for 2019 was to go unbeaten.
Hyams capped off a perfect 9-0 regular season with a 44-6 win over the Orange Park High School Raiders in the season finale for both teams on Friday. The win gives Fleming Island an undefeated regular season heading into a home playoff game against Wekiva High from central Florida Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
"Since the summer our guys have gotten closer and competed each day," said Fleming Island coach Damenyum Springs. "I feel we can be a really special team."
Playoffs: Wekiva (7-3) brings a team that, in 2017, lost in the region 1-8A finals to Dr. Phillips High and came back in 2018 with an 11-2 record that again ended in the region finals against eventual 8A champion Mandarin High School. Wekiva's losses in 2019 have been to 7A No. 4-Edgewater (52-21, 9-1), 8A No. 11-Dr. Phillips (35-7. 8-2) and 8A No. 4-Apopka (34-0, 8-1); all top ranked programs from Orlando.
In Class 7A rankings on Maxpreps.com, Fleming Island is ranked 13th, Wekiva 21st.
The rest of the region includes No. 1 Edgewater (9-1) hosting No. 8 Crestview (5-5), No. 4 Winter Springs (6-4) hosting No. 5 Lincoln (7-3) in the upper bracket with Fleming Island and Wekiva in the bottom bracket with No. 2 Niceville (10-0) hosting No. 7 Chiles (6-4).
The Raiders came into the contest disappointed after a crushing home "win or go home" defacto playoff game against district rival Menendez which they lost 27-0. So the big question on the Raiders side would be if their mindset was on this rivalry game or had the players mentally ended their season after being eliminated from playoff contention.
The Raiders started the game going for it on fourth down and three at their own 27 yard line sending the message that head coach Tom Macpherson would be emptying the playbook in this regular season finale. The fourth down attempt would be stuffed by the Golden Eagles defense giving the potent Fleming Island offense the ball on the Raiders 27 yard line. The Raiders defense (Led by Liberty commit Kendy Charles) would hold Fleming Island to a field that was wide left.
That would be the extent of the Raiders good luck through the first half as Fleming Island roared away with a rugged run game behind Sam Singleton and Tim Thomas that put Hyams on an eight yard scoring run.
Then a 36 yard pass play to Broden Domenico, a 19 yard pass to Will Stephens to the three and Singleton finishing the flurry.
"The fast was great for us," said Springs.
The Raiders breathed some life with wideoutSean Dixon on a 40 yard pass play, but a fourth and one misfire.
A Cameron Broughton intercept turned into a fourth and 17 with a fake punt that failed.
Hyams found Domenico with a 31 yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 21-0 just two minutes into the second quarter.
"Our offensive line has improved the most of any position throughout the year" said Springs.
The Raiders got a their lone score on a Walker touchdown strike and Charles would stuff a Fleming Island drive as the half ended.
"They have a big offensive line and two really good backs and it was big for us because we had freshman playing all over the field because of so many injuries," said Macpherson. "We had alot of attrition leading into the game plus we lost three of our starters from last season to this team."
The second half would see the 7A powerhouse Golden Eagles start to impose their will as their depth and weight advantage finally started to take their toll on the Raiders. Wide receiver Will Stephens broke multiple tackles on a 33 yard reception to the Orange Park 28 yard line. Then on third down Hyams found Domenico for a 29 yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 31-6 less than three minutes into the third quarter. The teams would hold each other scoreless until the final ten seconds of the quarter on a Sam Singleton rushing touchdown for a commanding 38-6 lead. The Golden Eagles would add one last score when Hyams found Stephens on a beautifully thrown 35 yard touchdown pass with 7:02 left in the fourth quarter.