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Western football wins; Stranahan falls at Broward Elite Showcase

Thursday contest kick off three days high caliber football in South Florida

DAVIE, FLORIDA – The Broward Elite Showcase started on Thursday night with a doubleheader featuring several Division 1-caliber players and four teams with high aspirations in the 2022 season.

The two South Florida squads split, with host Western winning the night-cap, 33-14 over John’s Creek (Ga.). In the first game, Life Christian Academy (Va.) bottled up Stranahan, 21-6.

Before it concludes on Saturday evening, The Broward Elite Showcase, will feature seven games and 14 teams playing over three days.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to be able to host it and participate in it,” Western High School athletic director Jermaine Hollis said. “The past couple of years, we’ve been trying to get to some national events. We finally have it this year. Our kids and our coaches are excited about it. I know it means the world to them. A lot of them don’t have the opportunity to play teams from out of state.”

Western 33, John's Creek (Ga.) 14

Western-Jones Creek

From the opening kickoff, Western played like it was on a mission.

Senior quarterback Collin Hurst stole the show, throwing for three touchdowns and guiding the Wildcats to a commanding 33-0 halftime lead.

Kristian Hobbs opened the scoring with a 22-yard field goal, and Hurst began carving up the John’s Creek defense.

Hurst flung a 22-yard touchdown pass to Ben Sherota with 4:19 left in the first quarter, and a 27-yard TD pass to Santana Fleming. Western converted both their two-point conversion attempts, and led 19-0 at the end of the first quarter.

“This was a tremendous opportunity,” Western coach Adam Ratkevich said. “This was one of the biggest focuses literally in the entire nation. From media coverage to colleges coaches that reached out to me. Obviously, this was a huge event. It was a great opportunity for everybody. For South Florida football. For the boys who came in from out of state to take part in, and we are really appreciative to have the opportunity. We hope that Broward County continues to do this.”

The second quarter was more of the same. Hurst hooked up with Justin Tedim on an 8-yard touchdown pass, and Chance Washington broke through for a 20-yard touchdown run, and the lead was 33-0 at halftime.

But in the second half, Western came out flat, and John’s Creek scored the only points in the final two quarters. Quarterback Michael McClellan capped the scoring with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Luke Richards.

“We came out in the first half and we played like a championship football team, and executed the way we were supposed to,” Ratkevich said. “I warned the guys at halftime, we talked about the fact we needed to come out the second half and play like we’re losing by two.”

It didn’t turn out that way. Western did march down the field, and were in position to speed the game up with a touchdown that would have pushed the lead to more than 35 points. But the Wildcats fumbled at the goal line, and John’s Creek recovered in the end zone.

Western nearly had a sack/fumble on McClellan on the ensuing drive, but the referees ruled an incomplete pass.

The Wildcats offense never got on track in the final two quarters.

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“Obviously, mentally, we checked out a little bit in the second half,” Ratkevich said. “We left some points off the board. Obviously, fumbling into the end zone. We thought we crossed the line, but, you know. We missed some opportunities down there. We made it a little frustrating in the second half.”

McClellan made some plays with his legs and his throws, and the score became more respectable.

“They were moving the ball a little bit more on our backups in the second half on defense,” Ratkevich said. “We are going to get guys out when you’re up by that margin.

“But the bottom line is, I’d rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss, any day. And I’d rather be correcting mistakes from the standpoint of a 33-14 victory. We have some things to fix to be exactly who we want to be. But at the end of the day, I’ll take it. I think we represented Broward County and the state of Florida well.”

Hurst looks to build on a strong junior season when he threw for 3,267 yards with 35 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

“He came out and did what Collin does,” Ratkevich said. “He came out and executed. He was a leader. Again, we need to be a little bit sharper in the second half, but he looked really good in the first half.”

LIFE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (Va.) 21, STRANAHAN 6

Strahan-Life Christian

In the first game, quarterback Cody Shelton hooked up with Kam Phillips on a 57-yard pass and Life Christian Academy (Va.) never relinquished the early lead.

Stranahan pulled within a point, 7-6, on Sincere Rodriquez’s four-yard touchdown run. But the Mighty Dragons missed the extra point.

The game turned into a defensive battle until Life Christian scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Cole Varner rambled for a 11-yard touchdown run with 1:42 remaining, and Kenneth Lowery had a pick-six to ice the game with 1:35 remaining.

“This was a great experience for the guys,” LCA coach Charles Scott said. “It simulated the college experience, as far as the crowd goes, as far as the meals, the meeting rooms, sleeping in a bed that’s not your bed. Still, trying to get ready to play the football game.”

Defensively, LCA was able to shut down Stranahan’s five-star wide receiver, Hykeem Williams.

LCA features four-star safety Kaleb Spencer, a University of Oklahoma commit, and defensive back Antonio Cotman, who is headed to Boston College.

“You obviously do your research on personnel,” Scott said. “We do share film, so we got their scrimmage film from last week, as well as they had ours. We knew they had the No. 2 wide receiver in the country. So our DBs took that personally. We do have a four-star DB, and that was one of the big challenges in the matchups. At the end of the day, that’s what we came into this game looking forward to. We felt like, if we could take [Williams] out of the game, we could make them a one-dimensional team.

“Offensively, we definitely had to grind it out. We’re breaking in a new quarterback, who transferred in to us with a new system. Again, obviously early in the season, we’re going to start slow, and kind of lean on our defense to win football games.”

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