Chaminade-Madonna’s chase for its fourth straight state championship started off strong last Friday night, defeating the reigning Class 2A state champions Champagnat Catholic 27-14.
Starting the game down 7-0, the Lions scored 20 unanswered points in the stretch of three quarters, holding a comfortable lead entering the final 15 minutes of play.
That was until Champagnat Catholic put the score at 14-20 with under 11 minutes left. However, to get the ball back for one last drive, they’d have to stop Chaminade’s impressive run game, led by Thaddius Franklin.
Not being able to do so, Chaminade held the ball until the 2 minute mark, as they notched its first win of the season, while Champagnat moves to 0-1.
Here are my takeaways on Chaminade-Madonna’s season-opening victory.
1 – The Thad Franklin show:
Referred to as ‘Superman’ by coaches and teammates, Franklin, a University of Miami commit, was a man amongst boys in Week 1.
Rushing for 164 yards and all 4 touchdowns on 28 carries, the senior’s ability to rush through traffic and take top-speed makes him one of the better players in the South Florida area.
Franklin doesn’t necessarily embark his big numbers, instead focusing on the bigger picture as he concludes his high school career.
“I don’t really care [about stats], I just want to win,” he said.
2 – Chaminade’s front five difficult to contain:
Led by Allan Haye, Kenyatta Jackson and Jamaal Johnson, the Lions’ defensive end core were difficult not to keep an eye on. The trio did a great job forcing Champagnat quarterback Tyous Taylor to give up the ball quicker than usual.
Haye led the pack Friday, recording 5 tackles, 1 sack and 1 pass deflection. Johnson and Jackson Jr. were right behind the 2021 prospect, picking up multiple tackles and even a sack.
3 – Chaminade’s secondary makes noise:
Other than giving up a big-time fourth down conversion by Champagnat wide receiver Malik Rutherford, Chaminade’s secondary excelled Friday night.
The impressive performance came with 2 interceptions, the first one from Auburn commit Brian Dilworth and the second from senior Michael Edwards.
Dilworth stood out the most, adding a pass deflection in the second half to the stat sheet. As for Edwards, his fourth-quarter interception changed the course of the game, putting a hold to Champagnat’s comeback efforts.
4 – Tolbert getting his feet wet:
While he didn’t produce what he’s accustomed to, Lions quarterback Jaylon Tolbert had an opportunity to play with his new teammates for the first time.
Tolbert, a Howard University commit, transferred to Chaminade for his senior campaign after one season at Hialeah. He spent his season-opener sharing snaps with fellow signal-caller Brad Kelly, as he continues learning the play call.
In the eyes of his teammates, the best is yet to come.
“Jaylon [Tolbert] is a real mobile quarterback,” Haye said. “This is his first game, I think he’s gonna come out here and do something special.”
5 – What the future holds:
To say the least, Chaminade’s performance was just a glance at the potential they possess on all sides of the field.
Still, that’ll be put to test again, as the Lions prepare for a Week 2 matchup against American Heritage, headlined by Miami commit James Williams, who many consider to be one of the best prospects in the country.
It’ll surely be another test to the greatness of coach Dameon Jones’ squad.