It has been five years since the Nova Southeastern University School Sharks — then nicknamed the Suns — won a state title.
Strides have been made this season to turn the program into a state champion again.
But Chaminade-Madonna (7-2), a team that came within one game of winning a championship a year ago, showed University (7-1) on Friday afternoon how far it still has to go.
Led by Auburn University commitment Shaun Shivers, the Lions pulled away in the second half for a dominant 33-14 home victory.
Shivers did his usual … well, usual for a running back that looks college ready right now. He ran for 283 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.
Shivers has gained over 1,000 yards this season and leads all Broward County small-school running backs.
“It was a big game, and we had to come in and dominate,” Shivers said. “It’s just my O-line dominating up front and me reading the holes.”
And another one of Chaminade’s superstars, senior receiver and University of Alabama commit Xavier Williams, made the timeliest play of the game when he returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown after the Sharks had cut Chaminade’s lead to 19-14.
“We got a spark from Xavier,” Chaminade coach Dameon Jones said. “That return really sparked everybody. Then Shaun did his thing. The timing on Xavier’s return couldn’t have been better.”
The Lions fell in the state final last season to Jacksonville Trinity Christian. It was their first trip to state since 2005 when they won their second state title in a three-year span.
Chaminade loaded its schedule this season with multiple powerhouses such as Miami Central and Plantation American Heritage to challenge itself for another push to December.
It has worked so far as the Lions enter next week’s playoffs as the top seed in their region. They will host Palm Beach Benjamin in the first round. If Chaminade makes it back to state it could face a familiar foe in West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy – the team the Lions beat in last year’s regional finals.
As for University School, it will enter the playoffs as the top seed in Region 4-4A. The Sharks are projected to host either Monsignor Pace or Belle Glade Glades Central in the first round. Defending state champion Cocoa looms as a potential major obstacle should University reach the state semifinals.
University is advancing to the postseason for the first time since 2013 and has made it far thanks to a core of young, talented players.
And it is adding depth. Freshman such as linebacker Emile Aime could give the Sharks a chance to make a run this season if not in the near future.
Aime (5-10, 190 pounds) recorded two sacks and kept University in Friday’s game with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter.