High School Football

Saint Stephen’s wins ninth straight game, advances to Florida Bowl

Hey, Manatee County, are you ready for some playoff football?

The high school football playoffs are here, and Manatee County will be well represented.
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The high school football playoffs are here, and Manatee County will be well represented.

Saint Stephen’s controlled the game in all three facets -- offense, defense and special teams -- and defeated Mount Dora Christian 27-3 in a Sunshine State Athletic Conference semifinal game Saturday night at Moore Athletic Complex at Turner Fields.

Saint Stephen’s earned what head coach Tod Creneti called a “program win” that gave the Falcons 31 victories in their last 32 games.

The two-time defending SSAC state champions will be looking to three-peat when they face Orlando Christian Prep next Saturday in the fifth annual Florida Bowl at The Master’s Academy in Oviedo. Orlando Christian eliminated Windermere Prep 44-10 on Saturday.

It was Saint Stephen’s (10-1) ninth straight win since a 35-21 loss to Windermere Prep. The Falcons came in averaging 44 points per game while the defense has now held seven of its last eight opponents to single digits.

Mount Dora Christian (7-4) got on the scoreboard first on a 26-yard field goal by Kevin Davina with 8:06 remaining in the first quarter. The Falcons countered with a 33-yard field goal by Noah LaBelle four minutes later.

After the teams traded punts and Mount Dora Christian lost a fumble on a center snap at the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line, Cam Vining scored on a 6-yard run for the Falcons. LaBelle’s kick made it 10-3 with 10:55 left in the second quarter.

D.J. Clark rushed 13 times for 53 yards in the first half for Saint Stephen’s. Jesiah Pierre rushed 14 times for 103 yards in the half for the Bulldogs. Mount Dora Christian was playing without top running back Tyler Allen, who was out with an injury.

LaBelle’s 38-yard field goal increased the Falcons’ lead to 13-3 with 7:27 left in the third quarter. Saint Stephen’s quarterback Xavier Wiliams scored on a 4-yard run with 5:45 left in the game. LaBelle’s kick made the score 20-3. Clark capped the scoring with an 8-yard run with 2:42 remaining.

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