Jackets over Booker 31-15 in 3A Final

MIAMI- St. Augustine swarmed into Dolphins Stadium with a relentless defensive front and a big play offense that proved to be too much for Sarasota Booker. The Yellow Jackets first quarter onslaught led to a 191 yard total offense and a 14-0 lead. The Tornadoes managed only 19 total yards of offense in the opening quarter.

"We've always said that we have the best defense in the state," Rickerson said. "That's what we did here tonight. We came out prepared and full of emotion."

Florida commits Jacques Rickerson and Brandon James were crowned champions, while playing a key role in getting things jump started for the Jackets. St. Augustine quarterback Quinterrence Cooper hit Rickerson the opening play of the game for a nine yard pass. Two plays later, he dumped off a pass to James, who demonstrated outstanding vision and patience to wait for his blockers to get outside and open holes while rotating his hips to get away from arm tackles. James picked up 21 yards on the play, giving the Jackets a first down at the Booker 44 yard line. Cooper later threw an interception.

However, the Yellow Jackets defense stuffed the Tornadoes opening drive three and out, a theme they would repeat on Booker's other two first quarter possessions.

St. Augustine took over and the offensive front opened holes for James who picked up 11 yards on his second carry and held off Tornado rush three plays later for a little trickery. James took the ball and moving toward the left, stopped and fired the ball back to Cooper waiting with blockers in front of him on the right side. Cooper took the ball 34 yards for the Yellow Jackets first score.

"That's something that we work on all year," James said smiling. "It was open. He made a great catch and ran it in the end zone. We couldn't have drawn it up any better than that."

Following another three and out, St. Augustine needed only two plays for the big play to get the ball in the end zone. Cooper dumped the ball off to running back Rai-shawn Wilson, and the junior turned on the speed for a 64 yard sprint to pay dirt. The Jackets quickly led 14-0.

Sophomore kicker Caleb Sturgis nailed a 49 yard field goal early in the second quarter to give the Jackets a 17-0 lead. The kick would have been good from 55 yards.

James was the workhorse offensively in the first half. He ran for 57 yards on just five carries and hauled in four passes for 40 yards, and he completed his only pass of the contest for a 34 yard score.

"We really just came out and did just what we've been doing all season," James said. "We stayed behind the blocks of the offensive line and the receivers and made big plays. It was hard to keep that emotion reeled in. I was holding it back, and that's why I got the (unsportsmanlike) penalty late in the game. I just couldn't hold it anymore. Our offensive line gets all of the credit;. They deserve it. They‘ve been playing like that all year."

James' only negative play occurred when he fumbled the Tornadoes first punt. The ball was recovered by a teammate. He played an outstanding first half. Outstanding vision. He displayed moves like a water bug. He also caught the ball well out of the backfield. On one play, Cooper threw a pass to James that was very low. He came back to the ball, got under the it and secured the catch.

A deep pass for Shields in the second quarter was broken up by Rickerson. Booker quarterback Darante Hunter under threw the ball causing Shields to slow down and wait. Rickerson, who was step behind on the play, caught up and knocked the ball down.

Trailing 17-0, Booker had their first offensive momentum of the game in the second quarter when Rickerson lost the ball after it left Hunter's hand on a deep pass to Shields. He grabbed Shields by the jersey to avoid giving up the big play, which resulted in a first down for the Tornadoes at the Jackets 26 yard line.

Rickerson seemingly had tremendous respect for speed. He played off of him throughout the first two and a half quarters, before applying more pressure in the latter stages of the contest.

"I changed up my alignment on him," Rickerson said. "I didn't want to let him see the same thing every play. I just wanted to mix things up and give him (Shields) different looks. This is just the best feeling in the world. This is what we worked so hard for, and it paid off."

The teams traded sloppy play in the third quarter. The highlight of the quarter was a 30 yard run by James on fist down that moved the ball to the Booker 29.

On the seventh play of the fourth quarter, Rickerson hauled in a beautiful 32 yard touchdown pass running down the left sideline with a pair of defenders on him. He shielded his body from them and caught the ball for the score, giving the Jackets a 24-0 lead.

To their credit, Booker refused to roll over. They mounted a 10 play, 80 yard drive that saw Randy Jones Jr. go over from the two yard line. The Tornadoes converted the two-point conversion and trailed 24-8.

St. Augustine answered after the teams traded possessions when Wilson ran around left end for a nine yard touchdown just inside the marker.

Shields provided one last highlight. He brought down a 63 yard Hunter pass for the final score of the game, 31-15.

James led the game with 99 yards rushing on nine carries, 40 yards receiving, a 34 yard touchdown pass, and two return yards. Rickerson had two receptions for 41 yards, recorded three tackles, including an assist on a tackle for loss, and breaking up a pass. He also hit two punts for a 44.5 average.

Shields was the star for Booker with 143 yards of total offense. He caught four passes for 73 yards.

This is the first FHSAA title for St. Augustine High School.

"You can't write it up any better," James stated. "We came into this season with a goal of going 15-0 and winning a state championship. That's exactly what we did."

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