Jesuit High School’s remarkable 2016 football season came to a sad conclusion in the Class 5A State Semifinal in Plantation on Friday (Dec. 2), as a gallant comeback bid at nationally ranked American Heritage came up short, 21-14.
For the second straight season, Jesuit (12-1) was unbeaten in the regular season and earned District and Region titles. In 2015, the Tigers dropped the State Semifinal to eventual champion Orlando Bishop Moore. This season, it was the 2013 and 2014 5A champions, American Heritage (14-0), who edged out the Tigers in the State Semifinal on the road.
Early in the 3rd quarter, Jesuit fell behind 21-0, but the Tigers dug in and mounted a stirring comeback. Quarterback Danny Boon ’17’s second touchdown of the game, with a little over 4 minutes remaining in regulation, trimmed it to 21-14. But an onsides kick attempt by Jesuit was recovered by American Heritage. The Tigers’ Anthony Nelson ’18 then blocked a FG attempt, but there wasn’t enough time for Jesuit to complete a final drive.
As the emotions, hugs, and tears flowed among the Jesuit players, coaches, and supporters afterward, head coach Matt Thompson and school president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. addressed the team on the field, praising them for a great season, and praising the seniors for making an incredible impact on Jesuit football. The Tigers are 41-11 the past four seasons, including 25-2 the past two years.
Two seniors, Travell Harris ’17 and Malik Davis ’17, will be regarded with the very best in Jesuit history. Friday, a spectacular leaping catch by Harris and relentless running by Davis helped spur the comeback.
Harris starred in all three phases for Jesuit – defense (at cornerback), special teams (returns), and offense (wide receiver/running back). This year, Harris scored 17 touchdowns, including 9 receiving, 4 on punt returns, 2 kickoff returns, and 2 rushing, in addition to his consistently elite performance on defense.
Davis had one of the best football careers in Hillsborough County history, and is one of the best running backs in state history. After rushing for 144 yards on 26 carries vs. American Heritage, Davis completed his Jesuit career with 7,029 rushing yards and 83 rushing touchdowns (84 total TDs).
The rushing yards rank Davis 11th in state history, and he is No. 1 in county history by a wide margin of nearly 1,300 rushing yards over second place. His total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns also are the best in county history, with the rushing TD mark being 16 better than second place.
This season, Davis rushed for 2,469 yards on 214 carries (11.5 avg.), with 33 TDs. He broke his single season school records, which he set last season, of 2,337 rushing yards and 28 TDs. The 33 TDs are a single-season county record, and the rushing yards this season is second-best in county history (Lydell Ross had 2,698 for Gaither in 2000).
View a photo slideshow below from Friday's game:
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