When the Stetson football teams’ four senior captains got together to draft squads for the Hatters’ spring game, defensive back Donald Payne issued a stern challenge to the captains of the White squad.
Consider that challenge answered.
Payne told quarterback Ryan Tentler that he and his squad would never be able to score more than 14 points against his Green team defense. He even put dinner on it.
The White team answered, jumping out to a quick 16-0 lead before cruising to a 45-21 victory over the White at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
“The captains picked the teams, and right away Donald said the Green team was going to win,” Tentler said. “They thought they would put together a powerhouse defensive backfield and then said they were going to dominate our team. That is not quite what happened, and it was really fun.”
Tentler had as much to do with the White teams’ decisive victory as anyone. The Chicago native threw for 160 yards and two touchdown on 9-of-16 passing while also rushing for 70 yards and a score. His backup at quarterback for the White, newcomer Louis Pappas, also blistered the Green secondary, completing 10-of-13 passes for 142 yards.
Darius McGriff had the biggest night of the 10 White team receivers to catch passes. His evening included just three receptions, but he piled up 117 yards, thanks in large part to an 89-yard TD pass from Tentler to open the second quarter. That play pushed the White team to a 23-0 lead.
Tentler added insult to injury later in the quarter, rushing for a seven yard score to make it 29-0.
After the White team took such a commanding lead, the rest of the game was fairly even. Green quarterback Jonathan Jerozal completed 11-of-18 passes for 95 yards and two scores while backup Blake Plattsmier hit on 8-of-18 attempts for 142 yards while also rushing for 60 yards.
Rob Coggin was the leading receiver for the Green squad with six receptions for 91 yards and a score. Tight end Austin Marks also had a TD catch for the Green while Mike Yonker had the lone rushing score for the losing side.
“This spring has been a lot more fun than last year,” Tentler said. “We have been down some coaches, so the players have had to take it upon themselves a lot more, and I think that has brought the team together. It has just been a lot more fun.”
Head coach Roger Hughes said the biggest difference to him this spring is the progression the team has made.
“We are just so much further along this year than we were last year,” Hughes said. “We understand the schemes better and we are executing better. It is clear to see that we are farther ahead than we were last year.”
While the offense stole the show, there were some solid defensive performances turned in as well. Payne did all that he could do to help the Green teams’ effort by recording a game-high 13 tackles. That total included a pair of sacks. He also recovered a fumble and blocked a PAT kick in the scrimmage.
Linebacker Dylan Wydronkowski and safety Bobby Jakubek led the White team with nine total tackles each. Wydronkowski also had a sack and a QB hurry. Defensive back Glenn Adesoji set up the first points of the game for the White team with a 75-yard return of a Jerozal interception.
The Hatters will come back to work next week with two final practice sessions to cap spring drills. While the members of the White team will celebrate their victory this weekend, the work of improving as a team will continue.
“We were the winners this spring, but we are going to move on,” Tentler said. “We have Warner to look forward to and we are going to go back to being one team. Donald Payne is my teammate again, and I know he is tired of losing.”