High School Sports

American Heritage bounces back from preseason loss

Northwestern’s Billy Joseph, left, Kai Henry and Harry Hanna (55) celebrate Henry’s 38-yard touchdown run against American on Saturday night.
Northwestern’s Billy Joseph, left, Kai Henry and Harry Hanna (55) celebrate Henry’s 38-yard touchdown run against American on Saturday night. adiaz@miamiherald.com

American Heritage wanted to shake off the bitter taste of its lopsided defeat against Miami Booker T. Washington.

While not the prettiest of performances at times, the Patriots responded Saturday night with a huge 17-14 victory against Georgia powerhouse Colquitt County in their regular-season opener.

Heritage took a 17-0 lead before holding off the host team from Moultrie, Georgia, with a late defensive stand.

The game was televised nationally as part of the GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff weekend.

The Patriots (1-0) fell out of the major national rankings after last week’s preseason loss to Booker T. Washington.

The Tornadoes followed up their victory over Heritage with an even bigger win Friday over national No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas.

Heritage quarterback Jason Brown led the way with 126 passing yards and 80 rushing yards. He threw two touchdown passes in the first half, including a 15-yarder to fullback Joseph Ruma late in the second quarter. Heritage completed scoring drives of 87 and 80 yards.

Things won’t get any easier over the next couple of weeks for American Heritage, which won its first game with former Miami Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain as coach.

The Patriots will host Don Bosco Prep 7:30 p.m. Friday. The game will be the regular-season opener for the Ironmen, who are ranked No. 24 by USA Today. Don Bosco Prep has some history with Broward County football, having beaten St. Thomas Aquinas twice in recent years.

▪ Late Saturday — Northwestern 47, American 0: The Bulls gave another glimpse of their potential Saturday night at Traz Powell Stadium with a rout of American in their 2016 regular-season opener.

The game ended with a continuous clock after Northwestern (1-0) took a 40-point lead to halftime.

“This team has really started believing in each other,” second-year Northwestern coach Max Edwards said. “The effort was good, but we have to improve a lot to get better.”

The Bulls have made the playoffs every other season since 2010, the final season of a 19-year streak of reaching the postseason without fail. Northwestern thinks this is the season it can not only return to the playoffs, but begin to develop the winning consistency it had when it won four state championships from 1995 to 2007.

Junior linebacker Billy Joseph recovered one of two fumbles by American (0-1), which had three punts blocked including two by senior linebacker Demetrius Taylor. The first was recovered by junior linebacker Derrick Nicholson in the first quarter to put Northwestern ahead 13-0 shortly after Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell threw the first of his two touchdown passes in the game.

Kai Henry caught that score from 19 yards out and led the Bulls’ offense with 66 yards and another touchdown.

Atwell, a junior and Northwestern’s third-year starting quarterback, also ran for a touchdown as did junior Aaron Louis.

▪ Late Saturday — Hialeah 18, Miami Springs 2: Hialeah scored two touchdowns in the first four minutes and never looked back as the T-Breds retained the Mayor’s Cup trophy by defeating rival Miami Springs at Milander Stadium.

Running backs Rommeo Brown (125 yards on 14 carries) and Bobby Nelson (86 on 10) did most of the damage for Hialeah, which managed to overcome 16 penalties for 166 yards.

After Michael Cabrera sacked Hialeah quarterback DeAndre Miles in the end zone for a safety — Springs’ only points of the night — the Hawks got a short field on the free kick but turned the ball over.

Brown then ran 52 yards for a score 2:14 before halftime, and neither team scored in the second half.

Bill Daley

▪ Late Saturday — Norland 9, Jacksonville Ribault 6: Kevon O’Connor kicked through a 30-yard field goal with one second left in the fourth quarter to give Norland a season-opening victory over Jacksonville Ribault at North Miami Stadium.

Alec Carr scored the lone first-half touchdown on a 3-yard quarterback sneak.

Ribault scored on a 27-yard pass to a wide-open Rashad Flynn from Ryan Williams with 3:04 left in the game to even the score at 6. The point-after attempt was missed wide left.

Terence Evans produced some of his biggest runs on the final drive and finished the game with 104 rushing yards. His runs and a 17-yard pass to Dave Richards set up O’Connor for the 30-yard attempt off the right hash. The kick sailed through the center of the uprights.

The Norland rushing game was one of few things going right in the first half with 111 total yards. The Vikings were flagged nine times for 85 yards and only passed for 11 yards. Ribault also showed signs of offseason rust with 2 of 10 passing and four penalties.

Darren Collette

▪ Late Friday — Central 59, Clermont East Ridge 14: James Cook led the Rockets (1-0) with 156 yards and two touchdowns as six different players scored touchdowns.