Hopefully, the Belen Jesuit faithful enjoyed the delicious food and drink at the many tailgates parties before Friday night’s game against rival Columbus.
Because it all went downhill after that. And quickly.
The Explorers dominated from the opening whistle and made it 13 consecutive wins over their rivals with a 39-3 rout of the Wolverines before a sold out Tropical Park Stadium crowd of close to 7,000.
Columbus (2-1) looked like a team that had just played a game a few days earlier rather than one that, like all teams was coming in off a three week layoff due to the Hurricane Irma disruption.
The Explorers took the opening kickoff and rammed it right down the Belen defense’s throat, going 90 yards in 18 plays, even scoring on a busted play when quarterback Anthony Arguelles dropped the shotgun snap but scooped it up, rolled right and found five-star recruit Tyler Harrell for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
That was it as Columbus turned the remainder of the first half into an exhibition of perfection football, dominating on both sides of the ball.
And, for a change, the Explorers did it through the air as Arguelles completed 14-of-18 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns before the teams even went to the halftime locker room with Columbus up 32-3. Arguelles took the second half off.
Harrell, who is entertaining multiple offers from schools such as Syracuse, Illinois, FIU and FAU, was on the receiving end of five of Arguelles’ passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yarder that made it 16-3 early in the second quarter.
“We just came out and played hard and played fast,” said Harrell who said that Louisville, Syracuse, Florida State, Oregon State and Illinois are at the top of his list of schools and indicated that he might commit sooner rather than later. “Just a matter of executing and taking care of business.”
Henry Parrish Jr. led the way on the ground for Columbus with 69 yards on 12 carries and two scores. His 23-yard jaunt up the middle on the Explorers’ first play of the second half completed the scoring and got the running clock going.
The Columbus defense was perhaps even more dominant than the offense as it completely stymied the Belen offense all night, holding five-star recruit Don Chaney Jr. to just 23 yards on 12 carries and the entire Wolverine offense to 27 yards and just four first downs, three of which were by penalty.
“We wanted to come out and play fast and keep things real simple tonight and that’s what we did,” Columbus coach Chris Merritt said.