Game of the Week: Dunnellon at Vanguard
Dunnellon Shai’hem Thomas (9) battles for the ball as Vanguard took on undefeated Dunnellon at Booster Stadium on Friday December 4, 2020 in Ocala, Florida. Dunnellon beat Vanguard 13-10. [Alan Youngblood/Special to the Ocala Gazette]
Meanwhile, the Tigers’ Sept. 10 opponent, the undefeated Vanguard Knights, look to keep rolling.
On Sept. 3, Vanguard (2-0 overall record) blanked West Port 21-0 on the Wolf Pack’s own field. The week before that, the Knights opened their 2021-22 high school football season at home against Gainesville, winning in decisive fashion, 30-8.
Dunnellon (0-1) had a bye week on Sept. 3.
If the Tigers hope to win on Sept. 10 at Booster Stadium, senior quarterback Trent Townsend will need to connect with more receivers, having only found six of his 17 targets against the Bobcats on Aug. 27.
And those receivers—standouts like senior LJ Fitzpatrick and junior Maxwell Valcius—will need to find the endzone, which no one has done so far in 2021.
On the Vanguard side of the field, senior running backs Elijah Hopkins and Dewhitt Betterson Jr. will be threats from the backfield.
Hopkins scored a kickoff return touchdown last Friday to open the second half against West Port, while Betterson Jr. scored one rushing touchdown and had 49-total-yards-rushing in the same game.
Sophomore quarterback Fred Gaskin proved his prowess in the air, throwing a 31-yard touchdown pass to teammate Tyrell Randall to open Vanguard’s scoring in the first half against West Port.
The touchdown came on the Knight’s first possession (second snap) in the opening two minutes of the game.
A year ago, Dunnellon nearly competed for a state title, losing to Rickards (Tallahassee), 26-24, in the Class 5A State Final Four.
Vanguard nearly made it to the Class 5A State Final Four as well—if not for losing to Dunnellon in the Class 5A Region 2 championship game, 13-10, ending the Knights’ season.
A year later, that playoff game will no doubt be top of mind for both teams.
On Sept. 10, this non-district match-up between Dunnellon and Vanguard could prove to be a game both teams look back on as a decisive one in their respective 2021-22 campaigns.
The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Booster Stadium.
Other area football games on Sept. 10:
Gainesville at Trinity Catholic (1-0)—7 p.m.
North Marion (1-0) at West Port (0-2)—7 p.m.
Belleview (2-0) at Crystal River—7 p.m.
George Jenkins at Lake Weir (1-0)—7 p.m.
Oasis Christian at St. John (0-0)—7 p.m.
Bye Week: Ocala Christian Academy (2-0) and Ocala Forest (0-2)