Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jackets' Seniors Want Their Own Title; the State Championship in 2005 Was Nice, but They Were Role Players

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jackets' Seniors Want Their Own Title; the State Championship in 2005 Was Nice, but They Were Role Players

Article excerpt

Byline: JUSTIN BARNEY

ST. AUGUSTINE - Getting to the state championship is supposed to be a milestone.

But to many upperclassmen on the St. Augustine football team, it's become like a district game.

Seventeen of the Yellow Jackets have been here before, although almost all were just special-teamers or sideline spectators. Today in Orlando it's different for those players, all of whom have played major roles in taking the Yellow Jackets back for more.

St. Augustine (13-1) faces Naples (14-0) for the Class 3A state championship, the third title game appearance for the Yellow Jackets since 2001. For most of the Yellow Jackets, playing for a state championship will be a once-in-a-lifetime event. But for a slice of the roster, it's just one fewer time than they've played Menendez.

This time, those players hope to have a state title to call their own.

"I just feel more like this would be my championship," said Rashard Hall, then a sophomore defensive back in a secondary that included three college signees. "Then, we won as a team, but I didn't feel like it was mine. This year, it would feel like that for us."

Standing in the Yellow Jackets' way of the second state championship in program history is Naples, a one-time state champ itself. St. Augustine coach Joey Wiles said his team has seen enough tape of the Golden Eagles to know what's in front of them today.

"This is a different team than what we've played the last few weeks," said Wiles, whose defense has six shutouts this season, including a 35-0 rout of Citra North Marion in last Friday's state semifinal. "These guys don't make a lot of mistakes. I talked to some sports writers from other papers and the people down there are comparing themselves to us."

Naples might look like an older version of St. Augustine, such as the 2001 team that reached the Class 3A state title game. The Golden Eagles rarely throw the ball (989 yards all season) and rely on their veer-based run game to bury teams. Naples' three-pronged attack - quarterback Craig Wingate and running backs Greg Pratt and Carlos Hyde - have combined for 43 rushing touchdowns and 3,229 yards.

But the contrast is that St. …

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