Saks won 36-12. That was the score at the end of the third quarter. At that point, the two schools wiped the scoreboard back to zero and finished the game with their junior varsities, as they had agreed upon beforehand. Weaver won that portion of the game 14-0.
“You always want to win the spring game, if you play in one,” Saks head coach Jonathan Miller said. “It’s good and gives you a little momentum heading into the offseason.
“We had a good spring in the weight room and now we need a good summer in the weight room and hopefully this will carry over to that.”
This game gave Saks’ first-year starting quarterback, Tre Smith, a chance to answer questions about how he would lead the team. He finished with 135 passing yards and 17 on the ground. He had one passing touchdown and ran for one.
“Tre performed well tonight, and we knew he would,” Miller said. “He’s just going to have to make good decisions and protect the ball, because he’s going to make a lot of good plays for us.”
Weaver had a few bright spots throughout the game, and it started with quarterback Timothy Hawkins, who finished with a hard-fought 169 yards through the air while having defenders in his face constantly.
“Timothy is going to be tremendous — it’s just about working hard over the summer,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said. “The thing I can tell him is that it’s about what you do over the summer from now, and how you execute plays.”
Throughout the game, Weaver turnovers seem to fall into Saks players’ arms. Whether it was by an onside kick or a snap that hit Hawkins in the facemask and bounced right into the hands of a defender, everything was going the Wildcats’ way.
“We have to execute better,” Hamby said. “If we are going to beat a good team like Saks, we can’t have miscues like that. You can barely have one or two, but not a bunch of them.”
Both teams will open next season Aug. 30, and will play each other Nov. 11 at Weaver in a regular-season contest.
Wellborn 20, Jacksonville 10
In the late game, all the scoring came in the opening half and rising junior Landon Machristie’s debut as a varsity quarterback was a rousing success. Judd Smith had triggered the Wellborn offense for each of the past four seasons.
“Machristie’s a great athlete and he made some fantastic plays for us. What we lost with Judd was that guy who knew what everybody on the field was supposed to do out there,” said Wellborn head coach Jeff Smith. “Landon, he came in here and played lights out tonight and he’s going to do nothing but get better at it. The thing we lost was Judd’s experience.”
The Panthers took advantage of excellent field position on Jacksonville turnovers for their first two scores. Kevin Mixon carried the ball around left end for 13 yards and a touchdown. The first of two extra points by Dakota Gravitt made it 7-0 with the game less than three minutes old. With just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Panthers fell on a Jacksonville fumble at the Jacksonville 5-yard line. Three plays later, Machristie scored from four yards away on a quarterback keeper to give the Panthers the lead for good at 14-7.
The game’s final points came on an 18-yard pass from Machristie to Mixon, undefended at the goal line, on a fourth-and-12 call.
“I felt real confident coming into the game because I played seventh-grade quarterback, I played eighth-grade quarterback, so I already had a feel for the offense. What needed to be new was kind of stepping up and being a leader for the offense,” Machristie said.
Jacksonville showed the big-play potential of its offense when quarterback Jackson Bell and wide receiver Sid Thurmond combined on a 64-yard scoring pass exactly one minute after Wellborn’s initial touchdown. Mason Tompkins’ extra point made it 7-7 with 8:27 left in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, Tompkins nailed a 28-yard field goal to trim the Golden Eagles’ deficit to 14-10.
“I felt like our defense stepped up at times, made some stops. I saw that. I liked that. I liked the effort from them,” Jacksonville head coach Clint Smith said. “I liked our enthusiasm from our young guys. We’ve got a lot of freshmen. We’ve got some that were playing in the varsity ‘A’ game. In nine days it’s tough to get ready to play a game when you’ve got so many young guys that are just learning your system.”
Neither junior varsity team scored in the fourth quarter.
Star sports correspondent Rip Donovan contributed to this story.