By Patrick Bernadeau
For Hometown News
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - In every facet of the game, Fort Pierce Central dominated, crushing the Treasure Coast Titans en route to a 35-0 victory at Calvin R. Trippett Field at Lawnwood Stadium Friday evening.
This is the seventh consecutive Kickoff Classic victory for Fort Pierce Central, tying the run made by Vero Beach from 1996-2002 for most all-time in the area, however the game was overshadowed by the injury of star running back and University of Cincinnati verbal commit Marcus Levy.
With 4:19 left in the first half and the Cobras driving deep into Titans' territory holding 21-0 lead, Levy suffered a minor sprained left ankle after catching a short swing pass from junior quarterback Sam Vaughn.
In an effort to reach the first down marker, Levy lowered his shoulder, expecting a hit from a Treasure Coast defensive back. Although falling forward on the second effort, getting a couple extra yards and the first down, Levy was unable to get up following the tackle.
"I tried to make a move and go over the defender," said Levy. "As I was going over, he rolled over my ankle and I heard a pop. As I sat up, it was a little numb."
Central officials and medical personnel raced onto the field as the large Central following looked on in silence, hoping that the leader of their football team was not seriously hurt. Levy, who scored the game's opening touchdown with a run from eleven yards out with 6:09 left in the first quarter, was carted off the field on a stretcher and further attended to on the sideline.
Despite the initial scare, Levy was seen on the sideline with his jersey off, ice on his bum ankle but a smile on his face as the injury wasn't as serious as many inside Lawnwood initially feared. Following an MRI Saturday, Levy is day to day.
"You hold your breath and you hope and pray that it's nothing serious," said Central head coach Josh Shaffer commenting on Levy's injury. "My hope is that all my kids are healthy all the time. I know that's an unrealistic hope but all the same time, I'm still hoping and praying that all my kids get to play."
As for the game itself, it was all Cobras, early and often.
On the very next possession following Levy's opening score, Jameel Jackson reached the endzone in what was easily the prettiest play of the night.
Out of the pistol formation, Vaughn would fake handoffs to Levy and wide receiver Alquan Vickers who was in motion. The play-action fakes were enough to have the Treasure Coast safeties bite on the run. The Central offensive line, considered a question mark heading into the season and gave up Titan penetration early in the game, held a nice pocket for Vaughn to throw in. Jackson was all alone as Vaughn would deliver a bomb and with ten yards of separation from the closest Titan, Jackson would score with ease and complete the 61 yard touchdown reception.
Central also received contributions from their Special Teams unit. The Cobras would get a blocked punt and big returns, including a Roody Cleriser 69-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter which, from a competitive standpoint, put the game out of reach.
Treasure Coast's biggest struggle came on the offensive side of the ball where they were only able to muster 13 yards of total offense.
"I thought that there were a lot of great moments," said Shaffer. "Defense played their butts off all game. There were some great moments on Special Teams and some great moments from on offense in the first half."
Despite the defeat, Treasure Coast is confident that they'll be able to fix some times as they head back to the drawing board. "Special Teams and blown assignments is what hurt us tonight," said Treasure Coast head coach Irvin Jones. "We'll have to knuckle down and work on some things but we'll be alright."
Both teams will open their regular season Friday as the Titans will travel to Delray Beach to take on Village Academy while Central will host cross-town rival Fort Pierce Westwood in the 33rd edition of the Showdown.
. Central entered the game ranked sixth in the state in Class 7A AP Preseason Poll.
. Junior LB/DE Shareef Rhaheed in his first action with Central after transferring from Westwood collected a third quarter interception.
. Vaughn and senior Demarcus Semer have been entrenched in a battle for starting quarterback position since the spring. Vaughn started the game and was 9-11 for 98 yards and a touchdown and added 58 yards on the ground. Semer was 6-9 for 75 yards but threw two interceptions. Each player ran for a touchdown.