BALDWIN – With three members of the Orange Park High’s track 4 X 400 relay team; led by Class 3A third placer Alex Collier at tailback, the Raider football spring game became an exercise in …
BALDWIN – With three members of the Orange Park High’s track 4 X 400 relay team; led by Class 3A third placer Alex Collier at tailback, the Raider football spring game became an exercise in releasing Collier downfield as many times as possible. The result was a 14-14 halftime score with 3A-Baldwin High at Baldwin High School.
“We were missing a couple of key offensive weapons and Alex stepped up to show what he could do with 10-15 reps,” said Raider head coach Tom Macpherson, noting the absence of wideout/quarterback Terrance Johnson and running back Zykiem Sermons. “With everyone we have healthy, we should be able to carry the ball two or three different ways.”
With that being said, Baldwin opened with an 80 yard slant pass to touchdown against cornerback Kadin Elmore, who let wideout Richie Coffey get inside leverage, catch a great pass from quarterback Gavin Screws and rumble untouched to paydirt to put the Raiders behind 7-0 in less than a minute. Elmore was a member of that Raider 4 x 400 relay team.
“Baldwin came in with two guys that will be NCAA Division I prospects at receivers and we messed up the coverage on that first play,” said Macpherson. “We were having trouble with open field tackles and position and that we have to correct.”
After Coffey’s theatrics chilled out the Raider fan section, Collier reignited them with a 25 yard first carry into Baldwin territory that put the Raider offensive line in good position for the fleet-footed back.
From there, quarterback A.J. Mealer found wideout Cameron Broughton in the flat for 18 yards to the Indians’ 18 yard line.
Orange Park’s offense stalled there and kicker Shaq Magwood missed a field goal to leave the score at 7-0 with 8:52 still in the first quarter.
Baldwin would get consistent 8-10 yard gains on the Raider defense to keep the ball moving downfield, but it was a costly late hit penalty that kept the Indians alive. An offensive pass interference call against Coffey on an end zone pass in front of defensive back Antwaun Cooper pushed Baldwin backward before defensive lineman Jacob Moore sacked Screws to push Baldwin back as far as the Baldwin 48.
After a lousy punt from Screws landed Orange Park at their own 40, Collier again sliced off left tackle and sprinted 35 yards to the Baldwin 25. Mealer would take a bad center snap to the four yard line on a nifty scramble before two shots from Collier were stopped. A face mask penalty gave Mealer a first down at the one yard line where he split right and dove over the goal line to put the Raiders on the scoreboard. Shagwood’s PAT kick tied the game at 7-7 with 3:35 still in the first quarter.
Baldwin came right back with a long drive of 11 plays that saw the Indians get seven first downs, but, at the Raider nine yard line after a facemask and roughing the passer kept Baldwin moving again, Orange Park safety Kareem Williams broke up an end zone pass to put the Raiders offense back on the field at the Orange Park eight yard line.
“We don’t have many very big guys, but guys like Kendy Charles, David Araujo and Alex Moore were getting after it for the defense,” said Macpherson. “Araujo is a state weightlifting medal winner and we have him on the line after being a linebacker last year. Kendy is just a defensive standout.”
After the defensive stop, Collier rumbled behind 280 pound tackle James Rhodes to find open grass and blasting 80 yards with an escort from 400 speedster Sean Dixon, a wide receiver and the third 400 meter track specialist.
Orange Park’s defense stopped Baldwin on the next series. The Raider offense stalled at the 40 with 5:14 to halftime.
Baldwin came back with another long drive with five first downs coming with a mix of bubble screens and their passing game to tie the score on a six yard touchdown run with 2:58 left in the half.
Both teams had five down series to end the half at 14-14.