Sporting new uniforms and playing in front of a big crowd, the Monsignor Pace Spartans marked Friday as the homecoming of former head coach Joe Zaccheo after a nine-year hiatus from the sidelines.
But Coral Reef, with coach Javier Valdes making his own debut after arriving from Mater Academy, weren’t the least bit interested in any of feel-good nostalgia of Zaccheo’s return as it hung on to beat Pace in the Kickoff Classic 14-7.
The Barracudas took the only lead they would need when Mehki Ervan scored from the 2 midway through the second quarter.
Coral Reef put things away early in the third when cornerback K’Toney Hill picked off a pass at the 45 and scored.
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The Spartans scored a late touchdown on Stefon Francis’ 1-yard score with 1:19 left. Pace, however, failed to recover an onside kick.
▪ Belen Jesuit 21, Palmetto 0: With the Wolverines’ tough running game quieted, quarterback Daniel Hondal completed five passes for 170 yards to lift Belen to the preseason victory.
“Palmetto did a good job of taking away some stuff on the ground that we normally get so we had to go up top a few times and Daniel did a nice job out there today,” Belen coach Rich Stuart said. “We started a little slow but eventually we got things going and it was a good result.”
Stuart watched as his team appeared to be headed to the locker room at halftime in a scoreless tie with two minutes left when Hondal dropped back in his own end zone and found Perez all alone.
Perez was caught from behind at the Palmetto 8 but the 90-yard pass play set up Pedro Garcia’s 6-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds left to put Belen up 7-0.
After Mario Robaina scored from 16 yards out on Belen’s first drive of the third quarter, it was time for another Hondal-to-Perez hookup on the next possesion, this time a 49-yard touchdown.
“It felt great, I loved it,” Hondal said. “I’m excited that we could do it through the air and that coach has trust in me. We’ve been working hard at it so it feels good to be able to do things over the top.”
“We run it well so we feel that kind of sets up the pass,” said Perez, who finished with three catches for 158 yards. “It’s kind of nice and Daniel did a great job of getting me the ball today.”
Belen opens Friday against visiting Chaminade-Madonna; Palmetto takes on Sunset.
▪ Pine Crest 42, Pompano Beach 15: The host Panthers were in control from the start as they took a 35-0 lead by halftime and cruised to the preseason victory.
Pine Crest, which will compete in the Southeastern Conference’s National Division this season, got four touchdowns from quarterback Jordan Schulefand in the opening half.
Sophomore Shane Williams scored Pine Crest’s final touchdown of the exhibition with a 95-yard kickoff return after the Tornadoes had scored their first points of the night.
The Panthers (5-5 last season) open their season Friday in Boca Raton against Pope John Paul II. Pompano Beach, which won its final eight games of last season to finish 8-2, opens at Highlands Christian on Thursday. The Tornadoes will compete in the American Division of the Southeastern Conference this season.
▪ Doral Academy 40, LaSalle 3: Running back Nicholas Delgado scored three touchdowns to lift the Firebirds (6-4 last season). Doral opens up against Pembroke Pines Charter on Friday.
▪ Boca Raton 48, Coral Springs 13: Devante Gayle rushed for 250 yards and scored on an 85-yard touchdown in a losing effort for the Colts. Coral Springs opens its season Friday against visiting Everglades.
▪ Other scores: Gulliver Prep 37, Somerset Academy 14; Coral Gables 49, Ferguson 0; Plantation 45, Monarch 0; Stoneman Douglas 13, Coral Springs Charter 7; Boca Spanish River 28, West Broward 7; Seminole Ridge 33, Taravella 7; McArthur 7, Piper 0; Palm Beach Dwyer 27, Northwestern 22; Fort Lauderdale 21, Calvary Christian 10; Inlet Grove 14, Archbishop Curley 6; Central 48, Royal Palm Beach 6; Champagnat Catholic 39, Key West 32.
▪ Florida Christian Preseason Tournament — Gulliver d. Carrollton 25-22, 25-23, 14-25, 25-13: Isa Lamus 19 kills; Sarah Lobo 46 assists; Caro Mengotti 10 kills, 7 digs. Gulliver d. Miami Country Day 25-20, 26-24, 25-15: Lara Arvesu 25 digs; Lauren Gold 9 kills; Isa Lamus 13 kills; Carrollton d. Florida Christian 25-18, 22-25, 25-20, 17-25, 15-9: Gabrielle Socarras 15 kills, 14 digs; Andeina Rodriguez 10 kills, 7 digs; Rebecca Fernandez 27 digs.
▪ Coral Reef Jamboree — Coral Reef d. Terra 25-12, 25-22; Coral Reef d. St. Brendan 25-20, 19-25, 15-9; Pace d. South Dade 25-13, 25-12; Pace d. Terra 21-25, 25-21, 15-9; St. Brendan d. South Dade 25-19, 25-16.
▪ Hollywood Christian Preseason Tournament — North Broward d. American Heritage 25-16, 24-26, 15-9; American Heritage d. Hollywood Christian 25-23, 25-20: Lu Grinspan (AH) 19 kills, 17 digs; Ahnie Jumper (AH) 36 assists; Laura Perez (AH) 8 kills, 9 digs.
Miramar v. American (Traz Powell), 7
American Heritage at Bradenton IMG Academy, 7