As good as he might look in a University of Miami uniform a year from now, Chaminade-Madonna linebacker Keontra Smith has a little more time left to make a few plays in high school and got the 2018 season started in style early Friday evening.
That’s when, in just two quarters of action, Smith dominated all over the field as he recorded seven tackles (three for loss) and watched two of his teammates come up with big plays as the defending Class 3A state champion Lions knocked off Columbus 10-7 in a Preseason Kickoff Classic at Columbus High School.
The abbreviated two-quarter game was one of three contests played and also included Hallandale, which actually knocked off Chaminade 7-0 in the second contest but with the caveat that the Lions emptied their bench as many starters including Smith watched from the sidelines. Columbus defeated Hallandale in the final two-quarter contest 17-0.
“Thanks to everybody else around me,” yelled Smith holding up his orange and green Hurricane gloves. “It’s never just about a one-man show with us. It’s about 11 guys out there all playing together for one cause and that’s just do whatever it takes to shut down our opponent. Everybody was hyped up today. We made all the plays when we needed to.”
And the two biggest plays might have come from defensive end Thomas Armstrong and cornerback Deidrick Stanley.
With Columbus leading 7-3 and less than six minutes left, Armstrong fired off around the right side on a speedrush, stripped Columbus quarterback Brandon McDuffey of the ball and fell on it giving his team possession at the Explorers 37.
Five plays later, running back Willie Davis scored from eight yards out for what turned out to be the winning score.
“Third down, we’re down 3-7 and it was time to step up and try and make a play for my team,” said Armstrong. “I got a great jump around the edge and did what I had to do.”
After Columbus defensive back Branden Coleman intercepted Chaminade quarterback Daelen Menard, his second pick of the game, and returned it 30 yards, the Explorers were in business at the Lions 30 with less than a minute to go.
Thanks to a Chaminade pass interference, Columbus was at the 12 when McDuffey fired a high fade pass to the corner that Stanley picked off and returned 65 yards to clinch the game.
“Our mentality is that nobody scores on us,” said Stanley, who has multiple FBS offers including Colorado State, Louisville and Boston College but will make no decisions until after the season. “We love being aggressive out there and forcing the action and that’s the way we want to do it all season long. We stepped up big today and that’s the kind of effort we’re going to need every week all season long. That’s what happens when you’re a defending state champion.”
More Kickoff Classic results
▪ Hialeah d. Champagnat 19-10.
▪ Cardinal Gibbons d. Key West 41-7
▪ Central d. Atlantic 39-7
▪ Deerfield Beach d. Stranahan 40-0
▪ Fort Lauderdale d. Krop 24-0
▪ Southwest d. Sunset 31-0