Marcus Benjamin @_benjaminmoney
After years of making it to the dance and never getting crowned, Dr. Phillips finally had its moment on a cool Saturday night in Orlando. The Panthers defeated Delray Atlantic 17-7 to earn their first 8A championship in school history.
“This not just for the guys that are here right now,” said Head Coach Rodney Wells and Dr. Phillips alum. “This is for guys like me who came through in the 90s, this is for the guys in the 80s, this for the guys who fell short last year. It means a lot for everyone.”
Jaberri Powell had himself a night to never forget tallying 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss and a blocked punt.
“Coach told me before the game started that [I] would get a blocked punt,” said Powell. “I felt like I had a good chance of getting the ball and that’s what I did.”
The Panthers got on the scoreboard first when the junior linebacker Powell rushed toward the punter and got his two paws on the football. He would scoop and score to put his team up 7-0 with 4:25 left in the 1st quarter.
The Panthers would add a field goal before the end of the half to extend their lead 10-0.
This was a game riddled with numerous penalties by both teams. There 27 total penalties for 185 yards.
The game had an eerie feel of last years game when Miami Southridge came back to beat Dr. Phillips on this same field in the championship final. Atlantic’s championship dreams would completely come to an end however when junior linebacker Cameron Williams intercepted a screen pass that he would walk into the endzone for a pick six.
“I’m glad I could step in and contribute,” said Williams. “Score when the team needed me to. This what we practice for, this is what we made it so far for! We made it a mission to come back and finish.”
“We had breakthrough moments all year,” said Coach Wells. “That was just another breakthrough moment that gave us a indication that we would finish our mission.”
It was a struggle on offense for the most part for both teams. Atlantic’s second drive of the second half saw the Eagles cross the fifty yard line for the first time all game, but unfortunately for them they turned the ball over on downs when Shelley Singletary could not stretch the ball far enough to gain the first down.
The Eagles defense would hold the Panthers to a three and out on the ensuing possession. Eagles moved into the redzone but were pushed back due to penalties and big sack by Powell and Brice Ingram. Atlantic would turn the ball over once again on downs after lofting a prayer into the endzone that hit the turf.
“We had our finish sign up since day one, since we started spring. Every team we would see that sign we would touch it and we finished the job,” said Powell. We took pictures of [the sign], we put in our phones, 365 days all we been talking about was finishing this, said Coach Wells.”