“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
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
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
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
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
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.”