The clock wound down to just one second remaining in Palmetto High School’s spring football game.
Well, it was a 42-0 blowout victory for the Tigers.
But that didn’t matter to freshman Kendall Reynolds.
The Palmetto linebacker didn’t play the first half Thursday at Harllee Stadium, so he sought to make an impression.
On the game’s final play, Reynolds timed the snap and connected with a vicious, bone-crunching hit on St. Petersburg Northeast’s Jordan Foreman.
The popping hit and subsequent tackle for a loss created booming applause from his teammates on the sideline, while capping a defensive effort that stymied the Vikings the entire night.
“They tried to get one more play in to maybe get six (points),” Reynolds said. “(The quarterback) said, ‘Set, go.’ And when he claps his hands, he (said), ‘Go.’ So I just go.”
The Tigers recorded five sacks and several tackles for a loss in the rout. Derrick Bradley and Gione Buchanan notched interceptions, and Lester Johnson recovered a fumble.
“(Lester) is a returning starter, he’s played a lot of football, he’s been an impact player for us last year, and we expect him to be an impact player for us this year,” Palmetto head coach Dave Marino said. “(The defense is) the strength of our team, there’s no mistake about it.”
They tried to get one more play in to maybe get six (points). (The quarterback) said, ‘Set, go.’ And when he claps his hands, he (said), ‘Go.’ So I just, go.
Palmetto High freshman linebacker Kendall Reynolds
While Palmetto’s defense stayed stout, its offense hummed with a new look created during the final regular-season game of the 2016 season.
Jason Spicer Jr. spent 2016 as the Tigers quarterback, except that’s not his primary position. He slid to the preferred wide receiver spot to close out last fall, and his offensive role in Thursday’s spring game catching and running with the ball keyed some drives.
“That last game just gave me a clue in what I had to improve and what the team had to improve, and it just put us in a good spot,” Spicer said.
Spicer dragged a gang of would-be Northeast tacklers for a touchdown with 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Later, Spicer made a leaping grab to haul in a long gain between a couple defenders that was capped with a touchdown six plays later.
“They were playing soft on me and taking me for granted,” Spicer said. “So I told them, ‘Just chuck the ball up and I was going to come down with it.’”
The running game also clicked for Palmetto. The Tigers saw Elijah Davis tally two touchdowns, where he jump-started the scoring with four carries for 50 yards on Palmetto’s opening four-play possession.
Johnny Jones also flashed his skills and speed. He caught Anthony Marino’s screen pass, turned up field and cut through Northeast’s defense en route to pay dirt midway through the third quarter.
Marino and LaJohntay Wester shared the snaps under center, and Dave Marino said the two will continue their battle in summer workouts, which begin next month.
“Now we get to focus on our passing schemes,” Dave Marino said. “Now we get to work on those throwing mechanics a little bit more, not have to worry about game planning and we’ll still be able to evaluate those guys as quarterbacks, as throwers, as passers in (7-on-7) tournaments that we go (to).”
Cardinal Mooney 35, Avon Park 12
Fort Myers Evangelical Christian 28, Out-of-Door Academy 10
IMG Academy 49, Clermont East Ridge 20
Sarasota Booker 19, Lakewood Ranch 14
Southeast 40, North Port 35
Palmetto 42, St. Petersburg Northeast 0
Bayshore at Dunedin, 7:30 p.m.
St. Petersburg Lakewood at Braden River, 7 p.m.
Manatee at Lakeland Lake Gibson, 7:30 p.m.
Note: Bradenton Christian is not playing a spring game this year.