Cocoa 25, American Heritage 7: Stallions dominated in the trenches
Saturday, August 25, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Saturday's nationally televised exhibition between American Heritage and Cocoa featured a running-back matchup that whet the appetite of recruitniks across the country.
But Heritage's Greg Bryant and Cocoa's Tarean Folston weren't exactly the difference makers they were expected to be, though they both ran for more than 100 yards in Cocoa's 25-7 victory that was shown on ESPN.
What separated one of Palm Beach County's top teams from perennial state power Cocoa happened on the offensive and defensive lines. Cocoa simply bullied its way up and down the field.
That didn't surprise first-year American Heritage coach Stacy Sizemore, who replaced Doug Socha in early July.
"We knew we were inexperienced and inconsistent there, so it was a good learning experience," said Sizemore, who was defensive coordinator under Socha. "That's a heck of a football team we played. They do a great job."
Cocoa's defensive line dominated Heritage. Bryant's runs felt congested. He needed 23 carries to get 108 yards, and he never quite found the space to break away.
Heritage threw seven times, with quarterback Marcus Davis completing three passes for 22 yards, not nearly enough to keep Cocoa's defense on its heels. Davis was sacked twice and harried all game.
Most of the Stallions' 13 penalties for 115 yards came from false starts or holding.
The Stallions' only scoring drive came after a switch to a jumbo package, where on each down it was clear either Bryant or backup Chad Veccharella (25 yards, six carries) was running.
Davis tunneled his way through a pile of bodies on the goal line to cut Cocoa's lead to 17-7, prompting a huge boost in morale on Heritage's sideline, but on their next possession, the Stallions botched a snap and Davis fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a safety.
Heritage never recovered.
"We beat ourselves today -- mentally," Davis said. "This game is about experience, so as the season goes on we'll get there. We have to focus on us."
Heritage concentrated a lot on Folston, but there wasn't much the Stallions could do to slow down the highly recruited running back.
Folston scored twice -- once on a 60-yard run and the other on a 21-yard catch-and-run. He ran 15 times for 130 yards. His team overwhelmed Heritage's defense with multiple formation looks, pre-snap motion and ball deception.
Three play-action passes torched Heritage for 48 yards, each a big momentum-killing play. Sizemore had game-planned for them, but Cocoa's deception taught Heritage a valuable lesson.
"Again, right now we're too inconsistent," Sizemore said. "We do some things well and then we do them not so good. And it shows."