Coral Reef’s football team knows it still has time to turn things around in what has been a difficult season so far.
The Barracudas weren’t at full strength Friday afternoon, but took a positive step by beating Varela 23-12 at Southridge Park.
Nicodem Pierre finished with 145 combined rushing and passing yards, ran for a touchdown and threw for another to lead the Barracudas (3-3) to the non-district victory over the Vipers (2-3).
Coral Reef, which is vying to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season, played without six players that were prohibited from playing after a student at the school died in a local hospital Friday due to a case of bacterial meningitis.
According to Coral Reef coach Chevas Clements, the six players had classes with the student and were thus required by the county to be isolated from the game until they received medical clearance.
“The school was on lockdown for a couple of hours so we didn’t exactly know if or when we’d be able to play this game today,” Clements said. “It affected the kids because they didn’t know how their teammates were doing and some of them had to go get checked out and make sure they were alright.”
Pierre got the Barracudas started with a 35-yard touchdown scamper early.
After taking a 17-6 lead early in the second half on a 6-yard touchdown run by Josh Young, Varela answered quickly.
Storm Smith escaped a scrum near the line of scrimmage and raced 80 yards for a touchdown. A missed extra point kept the score 17-12.
But the Vipers weren’t able to get any closer as Coral Reef’s defense stood its ground on the next three Varela possessions, forcing a fumble and two losses on downs. Pierre put the game away with a 27-yard touchdown connection to Bryan Bradshaw.
Coral Reef is 0-1 in District 16-8A with a loss to frontrunner South Dade. It can still make a playoff run if it fares well against Killian, Palmetto and Southridge — its opponents over the next three weeks.
“Our minds were a little lost today, but we still came through and got the win,” Pierre said. “In times of adversity, it shows who we really are.”
• Southridge 31, Norland 0: The Spartans made stop after stop in the second half and Jamal Adajamah rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown as Southridge (3-4, 2-3) beat blanked the Vikings (5-2, 3-2) at North Miami Stadium.
Southridge rebounded after enduring one of the most difficult schedules in the state during the first half of the season, but a dominant performance — including two interceptions, one returned for a score, and three defensive stands on fourth down — could portend better days to come.
“We always knew that with the firepower we have it was just a matter of time,” said Southridge coach Lamont Green. “I would say with the gauntlet we’ve been through we are battle tested.”
Adajamah began slow but got things going near the end of the second half when his 55-yard run with less than two minutes to play put Spartan quarterback Troy Cook in a position to find Gilbert Johnson for a 25-yard score, taking a 10-0 lead into halftime. Adajamah would again leave Vikings in his wake when he scored on a 62-yard run in the third quarter.
Starting the second half, the Vikings seemed to have found an antidote with their running game, driving 83 yards and tallying six first downs before a fourth down sack by Tony Stewart against quarterback Taron James gave the ball back to Southridge.