A T.J. McKay touchdown run gave the Sailors a 19-13 lead with 2:04 to play
The Sarasota High football team, by its own admission, made plenty of mistakes Friday night against Barron Collier High in its season opener.
Among them: the Sailors had 115 yards in penalties. They gave up a long fourth down conversion that eventually led to a Barron Collier touchdown. They fumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter. They missed on a handful of open deep throws, struggled in pass protection and missed two extra point attempts.
Yet when the clock hit zero, the Sailors found themselves in possession of a 19-16 victory. Sailors Coach Brody Wiseman can't quite explain it, but he'll gladly take it.
"It's a sigh of relief," Wiseman said of the victory. "We've got a weird football team. We embrace that. I'm maybe a little weird myself. This team, it responds really well to energy. When things get going, they can fight. It almost takes some adversity to get there … We went into halftime not playing that well. We were beating ourselves. We could have easily lost this game. We probably deserved to, in a lot of ways. But that adversity, having to come from behind, that gets these kids going."
The Sailors got on the scoreboard first thanks to a Jarmel Holloway touchdown run, but the Sailors botched the extra point. A Barron Collier safety cut the lead to 6-2 before the Cougars took a 9-6 lead on a short touchdown run a few minutes later. That score would hold heading into halftime.
Sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Tyler Pack gave the team life in the third quarter when he intercepted a pass from Barron Collier quarterback Dylan McNamara. Pack returned the pick for a touchdown but the return was negated by a penalty, though the Sailors kept possession. Two plays later, Sailors quarterback Lance Trippel found Pack streaking down the right sideline for a touchdown — only that too was called back, this time on a holding penalty. The Sailors tried the same thing on the next play, and this time it worked, though Pack would be ruled down at the one yard line. Holloway would finish the job a few plays later to give the Sailors a 13-9 lead.
The scoring was not close to finished. After a Holloway fumble, McNamara would throw a touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter to give the Cougars a 16-13 lead. The Sailors didn't panic. They instead went on a methodical drive that included a 13-yard fourth down conversion on a pass from Trippel to Olajawon Mitchell and several strong runs from Holloway. On fourth and goal from the one yard line, wide receiver T.J. McKay took a direct snap and sprinted to his left, turning up field just before the defense could catch him and waltzing into the end zone untouched. The touchdown, with a missed extra point, made it 19-16 with 2:04 to play. Barron Collier would fail to convert on fourth down on the ensuing possession, effectively ending the game.
Trippel finished eight of 18 for 150 yards, 67 of those going to McKay. Holloway was the team's leading rusher with 84 yards on 17 carries.
Before the game, the Sailors presented the family of Jalen Smith with all four color variations of his No. 8 Sailors jersey. Smith, a 2021 graduate, died in July in an accident at Nathan Benderson Park. The Sailors are retiring Smith's jersey in his honor.
Join the Neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering news and information that is relevant to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining the Observer's new membership program — The Newsies — a group of like-minded community citizens, like you. Be a Newsie.