Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

Ribault Wins The Battle of The Northwest

Northwest Jacksonville, FL –  Thousands of alumni, fans and spectators converged on Ribault Senior High School for the Northwest Classic featuring the Raines Vikings against the Ribault Trojans.


Raines traveled to Ribault for it’s final game of the season attempting to remain undefeated at 9-0. The Vikings gained an emotional hard fought victory last week against district powerhouse Bolles. Raines is ranked #1 in the AP Florida High School 4A poll, and #2 in the Duval Sports High School Football Power Rankings. They are a consensus top five team in the area.  Ribault came into the regular season finale at 5-4 still looking for a “respect game”. After a 0-3 start, Ribault rebounded to win four games in a row. They would fall to Suwanee in a district contest losing out on the district title, but  won a shoot out against Yulee to win a playoff spot. Yet they still have not gained a win against a team that would be considered equal or better than them to earn respect. Their last shot to do so for this regular season was against their rivals from the Northside. Ironically, both clubs would be forced to turn right around in seven days and raise their intensity to even higher heights for the largest High School game in Florida.

The game would start with the Trojans riding a wave of emotion. Quarterback Derias McGoogin got the start for the Trojans and led his team down the field on the first drive. McGoogin completed a big pass to Kenneth Channelle and a roughing the passer added 15 yards to the play. McGoogin would put it in the air again this time to running back Desean McNair in the flat for the first touchdown of the game. Ribault led 6-0. Raines would go three and out on their first possession and Ribault would do the same on their second possession of the game forcing punts. Raines would return the Trojan punt deep into Trojan territory when the returner fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Ribault.

This drive Head Coach Anthony Flynn began to unleash his star running back DeSean McNair. McNair gained a big run on their first possession but topped that on their third possession with a thirty yard bruising run breaking several tackles. McGoogin hit Channelle again to put the ball at the five yard line. A strong run by Brandon Thomas placed the ball at the one yard line and McGoogin ran the ball into the endzone on a QB sneak to put Ribault ahead 12-0. The start of the game surprised many from around the area.


Raines would not go scoreless for long. The Vikings offense could’ve thanked their defense for putting them in good field position. D-End Jaquan Bailey sacked McGoogin stalling a drive, and the Vikings defense began to lay the wood to McNair thanks to defenders Michael Pinckney and Dedrick Mims. The Raines offense was ignited by the play of their defense as Augie Debiase completed a nice pass to Ronald Patterson. Debiase would scramble for another gain, but then pitch the ball to RB Bishop Bonnett #1 on a following play, in which Bonnett took it around the right end to score the touchdown. It was feared that Bonnett may not play due to injury, however the talented running back toughed it out for his team.

The momentum of the game was thought to have shifted toward the Vikings, however Ribault would silence any thoughts of that. Quarterback Jhamaal Marsh entered the game and threw a beautiful bomb down the right sideline to WR Michael McCray who out leaped the Raines CB for the touchdown. Ribault increased their lead to 19-6 at halftime.

Raines shot out of the gate after halftime thanks to a big kick off return by Jordan Rivers. A few plays later Debiase hit WR Rick Wells in stride for a gorgeous 30 yard pass to close the lead to 19-14. Wells beat Safety Terry Stripling and the Trojan secondary that had pretty much held the big play Raine’s receivers in check for the first half. All of a sudden it was a different ball game.


At this point in the game, many in the capacity crowd thought Raines would repeat their comeback heroics that enabled them to defeat Bolles the week before, but the Ribault coaching staff should be commended for their preparation and installation of the game plan. Ribault ran the ball with McNair for much of the second half. The plan was to run the clock, win time of possession, and keep the ball out of the Vikings playmaker’s hands on offense. For the most part this strategy worked. McNair would grind for minimal yards on offense for the Trojans as the Vikings defensive line continued to clog running lanes. Raines would get opportunities , but the Ribault defense lead by Defensive tackle #55 Gentorris Jackson would get big stops in the ladder part of the third quarter and all of the fourth.  Leon Huey and Jamal Harrison came up with big tackles all over the field. Joshua Whitehead batted a Debiase pass in the air at the line of scrimmage and it was picked off by Cameron Richardson to thwart a potential go ahead score for Raines.

Deep in their own territory Ribault continued to play conservative by running the ball and playing defense. After a Jackson punt Raines would get the ball in Trojan territory with just over a minute remaining. Raines elected to pass the ball but was unsuccessful on three attempts. Penalties by the Raines offense did not help their cause and placed them in a 4th and long. Debiase would drop back for the pass and telegraphed the pass to the right side of the field. It’s not clear who the ball was intended for as the closest player to the ball was Ribault’s corner back #11 Brandon Thomas. Thomas intercepted the ball and raced down the left sideline to pandemonium erupting in the stands and on the field. Not since 2010 has a  Ribault team won a game against their neighborhood rivals Raines. The emotion from the players, fans and Trojan alumni told it all.

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Final: Raines-14, Ribault-19

Some may view Ribault’s win against Raines as an upset after looking at the records of both teams. But if you have followed Ribault this year, you know that they have one of the most talented rosters in the state. They just had to finally win a battle for respect, and they did just that in their biggest test of the year.


Both teams played an emotional hard fought game. It will be interesting to see how they transition into playoff mode, as both teams will be participants in the post season. Raines is still a favorite to make it to the State Finals in 4A. Raines will host the (3-7) Rutherford Rams next week. After missing the playoffs in a shootout against Bishop Kenny and Westside last year, Ribault will visit the (8-2) Ponte Vedra Sharks in the first round of the playoffs next week. After ther big win over Raines they are sure to be popular picks for an upset.


Check out the Northwest Classic Photo Gallery Below. And don’t forget to check back with Duval Sports for highlights and post game interviews from the big game!


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