Canterbury dominates in blowout win over Calvary

Canterbury dominates in blowout win over Calvary
By Chris Girandola

CLEARWATER — At one point during Canterbury’s 57-14 demolition of Calvary Christian, a fan in the stands at The Rock posed a rhetorical question of sorts:

“Who are these guys?”

Brent O’Neal had just scored the second of his three touchdowns on a 55-yard run in the second quarter to give the Crusaders a 44-0 lead, prompting this awestruck individual to wonder. By the end of the game, O’Neal had posted stellar numbers once again, rushing for 254 yards on seven carries as Canterbury improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in Class 2A-5 district.

“We wanted to set a tone for the rest of the district,” said O’Neal, who has rushed for 728 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. “We’re trying to prove we really are the best team in this district. Last week’s game (a win over Admiral Farragut) gave us the confidence we can compete with any team in the district and in our class in the state.”

The Crusaders wasted no time in forcing their will upon the Warriors and proceeded to showcase how skilled they are, reeling off scores in seven straight possessions. This came after a little wake-up call by first-year Canterbury coach Bill Jones.

“This week was hard because we just came off our biggest win in team history, so I had to get them off cloud-nine and get them prepared for a young, hungry team in Calvary,” Jones said. “About 10 minutes before kick-off, the guys kind of got it through their head they had to take care of the task at hand right here. Having a leader like Brent helps as well and it showed.”

After a long return by P.J. Franklin on the opening kickoff, Jake Holsinger (4-for-4, 41 yards) found DaSean Thomas in the end zone for an 18-yard strike on Canterbury’s third offensive play.

O’Neal, who ran a 4.46 time in the 40 at the SPARQ Combine this past summer, then showed off his electrifying speed with an 80-yard run for a score on the Crusaders’ first play of their next possession. After the Warriors fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, Franklin (66 yards on three rushes) punched it in from eight yards out three plays later to give the Crusaders a 21-0 lead with four minutes left in the quarter.

After a 9-yard run for a touchdown by Holsinger on the Crusaders’ next possession, Canterbury sacked the Warriors quarterback Stephen Rice in the end zone for a safety and a 30-0 lead.

Stephen Faucette rushed for a three-yard touchdown on the Crusaders’ next series before O’Neal busted loose for his 55-yard score. Franklin then capped things for Canterbury in the first half with a 58-yard touchdown in which the junior back swept outside and outraced the entire Calvary defense down the sideline in front of the Crusaders’ bench, giving the Crusaders a 50-0 lead.

The Crusaders outgained the Warriors with 321 yards in the first half versus Calvary’s 52 yards while scoring on all seven possessions in the half. Canterbury finished the game with 503 total yards and 390 yards rushing.

Derek Barnes finally was able to break the ice for the Warriors with an 8-yd. score with two minutes left in the third quarter. The score stood at 50-7 when O’Neal put an exclamation point on the game for him and the Crusaders with an 80-yard burst up the middle, leaving Calvary’s defenders in the dust for the score.

Warriors freshman quarterback Jeremy Wood connected with Zach Hubbard for a 56-yard touchdown and the final score.
The win leaves Canterbury looking like one of the preeminent private school teams in the area. A match-up against Carrollwood Day will be another big test for the Crusaders in a couple of weeks after Canterbury faces Bradenton Christian on the last day of September.

“Every week we go into each game with the mindset of getting the job done,” O’Neal said. “That’s the only way we’re going to keep this train going. Take care of each game, game in and game out.”

O’Neal said he has narrowed his college choices to The Citadel, FIU and Wofford, but he also said he plans to make a few more visits to some other schools before making his final decision.