Trinity Catholic crushes P.K. Yonge for district championship

Wright's 3 touchdown passes lead Celtics past Blue Wave

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Posted October 26, 2023 | By Mark Pinson/Special to the Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

Trinity Catholic junior quarterback Preston Wright tossed three touchdown passes, running back Jamarkus Starkes ran for a pair of scores, and the Celtics defense scored in a 49-8 rout of P.K. Yonge on Thursday night.

The loss drops P.K. Yonge to 3-6 on the season, while the lopsided win improved Trinity Catholic, which has played a demanding schedule, to 3-6 and it earned the Celtics the Class 1S-District 3 championship.

“I’m proud of the kids and I thought they played hard,” said Trinity Catholic coach John Brantley. “It’s been a hard road the last month and a half, but now we get back to our competition. Every phase of our program was good tonight and that’s what we’ve been working on all year. That’s why we play the competition we do during the season because it makes us a better football team. and this is the time of year it pays off.”

Trinity Catholic won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. The Celtics marched 66 yards in only five plays, all on the ground, with junior Davon Jones capping the drive with a 13-yard scoring scamper. The extra point by Cooper Badics made it 7-0.

P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) was forced to punt after failing to pick up a first down and a short punt gave Trinity Catholic the ball on the Blue Wave 47.

A pair of runs by sophomore James Pullings picked up a first down before Wright connected with the quick and elusive Jones on a 35-yard touchdown pass. The point after gave the Celtics a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

P.K. Yonge managed to move the chains thanks to the athleticism of quarterback Lawrence Wright Jr., who scrambled away from pressure and hit wide receiver Calvin Thomas for a 34-yard gain. The drive ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down at the Trinity Catholic 42.

Trinity Catholic’s Wright, who completed 12 of 14 passes for 163 yards, displayed excellent accuracy with his throws and hit tight end Caiden Buchs on a slant pass for a 6-yard touchdown and a commanding 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.

P.K. Yonge could not sustain any kind of success against a swarming Trinity Catholic defense and was forced to punt. A great return by Jaiden Alverio gave the Celtics the ball at the Blue Wave 3. Starkes powered his into the end zone to extend the lead to 28-0.

P.K. Yonge put together its best drive of the night and had a first-and-goal at the Trinity Catholic 7-yard line. Three incomplete passes by Wright Jr., set up a fourth and goal before Celtics senior linebacker Jacob Dyer intercepted a pass intended for Devin Johnson at the two to end the threat.

Trinity Catholic went on an 11-play, 98-yard drive with Starkes scoring on a draw play from 14 yards out to give the Celtics a 35-0 lead with under four minutes left in the first half.

P.K. Yonge went nowhere, and a poor punt gave Trinity Catholic great field position on the Blue Wave 43. Wright completed several passes and Ace Means caught a 9-yard scoring strike from Wright. The point after made it 42-0 with 55.2 seconds left in the half.

Things went from bad to worse for P.K. Yonge when Wright Jr., had a pass intercepted by Trinity Catholic’s Courtney Patterson who returned it 43 yards for a touchdown to make the score 49-0 at the half.

A running clock was used for the entirety of the second half. P.K. Yonge finally got on the scoreboard when Wright Jr., hit Devin Johnson for a 46-yard touchdown pass. The 2-point run was successful to pull the Blue Wave within 49-8 midway through the final period.

Trinity Catholic was able to run out the clock to seal the district title. The Celtics host Class 4A Gainesville Buchholz on Friday night in their regular season finale.

The Class 1A state playoffs begin in two weeks.

“It’s going to be tough next week because Buchholz has a tremendous football team,” coach Brantley said. “We’re going to go after them but we’re going to be smart about it because the playoffs start in two weeks, and we don’t want anyone to get hurt. There is nothing our kids will not have seen heading into the playoffs. We’ll be ready for anything, that doesn’t guarantee us anything, but we’ll be ready.”

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