Marcus Benjamin @_benjaminmoney
Orlando – The Patriots in workmanlike fashion defeated Baker County 44-15 to claim their fourth 5A state championship in five years to solidify themselves as a dynasty. Heritage has now won 27 straight games and are back to back champions.
“It’s a special time in Heritage football,” said former pro bowl corner and Head Coach Pat Surtain. “I got the best coaching staff in the country, the administration, it’s a joint effort and one man doesn’t make this train go. I give all the credit to all of them.”
The scoring onslaught began with a methodical drive that was capped with a one yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Cameron Smith. The transfer from American Heritage (Delray) also known as “Cannon Cam,” finished with 144 yards passing, 65 yards rushing and accounted for four touchdowns.
“Cam’s been terrific the whole year,” said coach. “He came in with the right attitude, learned how to do it the Heritage way. He fit in with the guys, the guy’s a winner what more can you say, he’s tough, he can make all the throws, he’s athletic, all these college teams around here that need a quarterback here sleeping on him. This kid is the real deal and I think he proved that throughout the season for the number 3 team in the country.”
Senior running back Seth Paige of Baker County broke out for a nice run on their first drive but the BC faithful who appeared in impressive numbers, did not have much to celebrate for the rest of the game.
Smith would score his second touchdown by finding a wide open Joshua Alexander early in the second quarter on a 39-yard pass to extend the lead 17-0.
The hearts of the Wildcats fans seem to break again when Miami commit Nesta Silvera scooped up a loose football on a fumbled exchange and rumbled into the endzone on a 57-yard run that seemed to shake Camping World Stadium.
“It was great seeing a 350 pound guy rolling like that,” said coach Surtain. “I wanted to go out with a bang,” said Silvera. “It was a good experience, good feeling getting into the endzone.”
Their next two drives would end quickly with quick senior receiver Anthony Schwartz scoring touchdowns. First, Smith found the speedster on a go route for a 43-yard touchdown. Next, Schwartz took a reverse for 37 yards to make the score 37-0 going into the half.
“We were talking about playing a perfect game all year and we came pretty close in that first half,” said coach.
The Patriots did enjoy the luxury of the running clock in the second half as Baker County attempted to mount a comeback. They would score on their first drive with a touchdown run from Seth Paige. They executed a successful onside kick and then scored on a halfback pass from Paige to Lee Graham. The lead was trimmed to 37-15 until Heritage milked the clock for the rest of the game.
American Heritage can make their claim as the best team in the country with this win. They came into the game ranked 3rd by MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings. Behind Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) and IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL).
“I think we are [the best team in the country,]” said Coach Surtain. “We have a lot of talent, different guys contributing, we’re a 45 man team and we can compete with anybody in the country. I put my team against anybody.”