Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

No. 1 Fruit Cove crushes No. 2 Liberty Pines 39-14

JULINGTON CREEK – What a difference a year makes, a year ago Eric Weatherly was on the Fruit Cove sideline punishing area defenses; a year later he was on the receiving end of one of those butt whoopings.
Weatherly transferred to Liberty Pines in the off season and has guided the Wolves to their best start in school history. However, Tuesday night his new team had no answer for the Fruit Cove Flyers.
For the second straight week, Fruit Cove found themselves in a No. 1 vs No. 2 showdown and for the second straight week, the Flyers walked away winners.
No. 1 Fruit Cove had little trouble with No. 2 Liberty Pines in a 39-14 win at Plantation Park. The win moved Fruit Cove with in one win of wrapping up the No. 1 overall seed.

From the get go, Fruit Cove set the tone early with a tenacious defense and high powered offense.

From the get go things didn’t start well at all for the Wolves on both sides of the ball as they fell into an early hole and could never recover.
On third down a bad snap got away from Weatherly and into the hands of Vincent Approbato at the 34-yard line.
Five plays later, Fruit Cove made them pay as Garrett Stewart laid a perfect played ball on a fade route into the left corner and into the hands of receiver of Carter McEachean for a 21 yard yard touchdown and 7-0 lead.
Weatherly had no room to run through out the night and the Wolves defense had no answer for slowing down the Flyers offense.
Fruit Cove scored on six of its seven possessions, the lone non scoring drive resulted in a interception.
With an abundance of play makers, Stewart went to Paul Wood and Ryan McGough through out the game to set up nearly every score.
McGough hauled in a 24 yard catch to set up Preston Strope’s 11 yard touchdown run and 14-0 lead.
Stewart hit Wood for a 9 yard gain down to the 10 two possessions later, which set up Harrison Moritz 10 yard touchdown run and 20-0 second quarter lead.
Fruit Cove, which refused to kick the ball to Weatherly on kickoffs, caught them off guard with an onside kick following the score which was recovered by McEachean.
Stewart connected with a wide open Approbato for a 41 yard touchdown completion on the ensuing play giving the Flyers a commanding 26-0 lead.
Liberty was finally able to put together a drive just before half as the Wolves took advantage of a pass interference call and Weatherly hauled in a 21 yard pass to put them inside the 25-yard line. Weatherly’s 1 yard sneak on fourth and goal cut the lead to 26-6 on the final play of the first half.
After a quick three and out by the Wolves, the Flyers went back to work as Stewart found McGough for a 20 yard completion to the 34-yard line. Approbato broke free from the line and hauled in a 66 touchdown pass breaking multiple tackles along the way for a 33-6 lead in the third quarter.
A pair of 13 and 16 yard runs paved the way for Weatherly to guide the Wolves down the field as Weatherly capped off the 15 play drive with a 1 yard run cutting the lead to 33-14 with 4:05 left in the game.
Stewart hit Preston Strope, who came out of the backfield, for a 28 yard gain on the second play of the ensuing drive and Strope followed with a 13 yard run to put them at the 1-yard line. Strope 1 yard run increased the lead to 39-14 late in the fourth quarter.
Matthew McCoy picked off a Wolves pass to kill another drive at midfield.
Stewart found McGough for a 36 yard completion to the 19-yard line, Landon Frazier rumbled up the middle 18 yards down to the 1 yard line before time ran out preventing the Flyers from scoring again.
Fruit Cove (7-0) travels to Pacetti Bay Wednesday with a chance to wrap up the No. 1 overall seed next week and first round bye in the playoffs; while Liberty Pines (6-1) host Sebastian at 5 p.m. at Plantation Park.

Helping hand

During halftime, the entire Fruit Cove football team gathered around midfield as the program honored Jacob Shedlin and his family.

Shedlin, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was hospitalized earlier in the fall, was on the sideline during the game and unaware of what was going on at halftime.

To the family’s surprise the St. Johns Middle School Athletic Association presented the family with a check for $500 to help offset some of the medical expenses they have endured.

That wasn’t it.

Their opponent Liberty Pines also made a donation to the family as well.

Bridgestone Pizza presented the family a coupon good for one free pizza every week until the year ends.

Perhaps the most touching thing was the officials and referee who called the Fruit Cove and Liberty Pines game gave up their pay and donated it to the family.

Fruit Cove players surround the Jacob Shedlin family during halftime of their game against Liberty Pines.

Jacob Shedlin