He played sparingly last year, but suited up for the preseason tilt with state power Seffner Armwood.
A dislocated left elbow kept him on the sidelines the last few weeks, which made Friday’s Class 8A-District 6 opener for Manatee High the first varsity regular season football game of meaningful reps for sophomore running back Keyon Fordham.
And he showed the future of the Hurricanes’ program with 125 rushing yards on nine carries and two touchdowns to lead Manatee past Tampa Alonso 44-0 in a game that featured a running clock for a majority of the second half at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium.
Fordham was the reason for that running clock when he dashed to paydirt from 50-yards away on the first offensive play of the second half.
He said he had butterflies before the game, but that was hardly evident when he churned out a bulk of Manatee’s 228 rushing yards.
“But then I got hit, and then I was OK,” Fordham said.
He split time in the backfield as starter Josh Booker was held out due to an injured right leg. Manatee head coach John Booth said Booker has a doctor’s visit scheduled Wednesday to determine what the ailment is. Booth added it could be a fracture or a sprain, but the severity is not known at this time.
Booker’s absence meant Manatee (2-2, 1-0) utilized various backfield options to torch Alonso on the ground.
“He had a fantastic game and just brings an explosiveness to our run game,” Booth said about Fordham.
The Hurricanes, who have dealt with adversity early this season with a defense that allowed 78 points during their Alabama trip and was hit with a running clock last week at rival Venice, also bounced back.
Alonso (0-3, 0-1) produced 18 rushing yards as the Canes avoided a slow district start.
“We want to try to set ourselves up as best we can for postseason play, and the biggest job in doing that is winning the district,” Booth said.
Meanwhile, the Canes’ offense started breaking out toward the end of the first quarter. The first of four consecutive possessions that resulted in touchdowns came when quarterback A.J. Colagiovanni found wide receiver Tarique Milton for a 22-yard scoring strike.
Colagiovanni added a 53-yard touchdown pass to Javarious Pollock, while Milton grabbed an 11-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal out of the wildcat formation midway through the second quarter. Fordham scored the first of two touchdowns when he trotted in a 6-yard run. Travon Joseph completed Manatee’s scoring as the third back to find the end zone with a 15-yard run in the fourth quarter.
During the last few weeks, Fordham’s watched while healing from the dislocated left elbow he sustained in the preseason and he made the opportunity count upon his return Friday.
“It’s been sad, because I wanted to go out there and play,” Fordham said. “But I couldn’t, so I had to keep going. ... And we got this win (Friday).”
Manatee 44, Tampa Alonso 0
M— Tarique Milton 22 pass from A.J. Colagiovanni (Daniel Reyna kick), 3:52
M— Javarious Pollock 53 pass from Colagiovanni (Reyna kick), 11:02
M— Milton 11 run (Reyna kick), 7:14
M— Keyon Fordham 6 run (Reyna kick), 5:28
M— Safety, 4:45
M— Fordham 50 run (Reyna kick), 11:49
M— Travon Joseph 15 run (Reyna kick), 7:00
Rushing: Alonso 35-18: Yafeo Davis 6-8, Jael Feliz 7-22, Malik Johnson 14-16, Shaye Scott 7-(-21), William Persaud 1-(-7). Manatee 26-228: Scott Voltaire 3-(-4), Jadan Robinson 4-50, Fordham 9-125, Jernard Porter 1-6, Milton 4-30, Colagiovanni 1-(-5), Garrett Ware 1-8, Joseph 3-18.
Passing: Alonso 4-12-0, 105: Scott 4-12-0, 105. Manatee 8-14-0, 118: Colagiovanni 8-14-0, 118.
Receiving: Alonso 4-105: Hunter Ackerman 1-48, Pablo Acosta 1-22, Johnson 2-35. Manatee 8-118: Milton 4-59, Shane Hooks, 1-5, Robinson 1-4, Pollock 2-50.
Sept. 30: Lutz Steinbrenner at Manatee, 7:30 p.m.