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Bolles ends Keystone’s season


Monitor Editor

Keystone Heights lost quarterback Blake Valenzuela to an ankle injury in the second quarter, leaving the Indians with few options in a 32-10 loss to Bolles in round one of the Class 4A playoffs.

Valenzuela was a surviving member of an Indian backfield that featured Anton Noble and Sam Anderson, two running backs lost to injuries earlier in the year..

Coach Chuck Dickinson said he had built his offensive game plan for the Jacksonville school around Valenzuela.

“Once we lost Blake, it sort of took us out of our game plan,” he said after the game. “We worked all week to let him run the ball a little bit more.  That would give us one extra blocker.”

Dickinson added that he had planned to spread the Bulldog defense and get his quarterback outside on running plays.

“He had a couple of good plays here and there,” he said.

Valenzuela went down on a second-and-10 pass play on the Bolles 33 in which he could find no open receivers.  The senior signal caller pulled down the ball, escaped the pass rush and headed up field.  After Valenzuela crossed the line of scrimmage, Bolles defensive lineman Jordan Jackson caught him from behind.  The quarterback appeared to injure his left ankle on the play, and was later transported to an area hospital for evaluation.

Dickinson said that after Valenzuela’s injury, he hoped to hold Bolles to the 13-3 lead they had at the time the quarterback went down.  The coach said he planned to retool the game plan during halftime, plugging Darein Gilio into Valenzuela’s spot.  That course of action appeared feasible since the original game plan focused on a running quarterback instead of passing, Gilio had practiced the position earlier in the year, and Gilio himself had produced in games as a Keystone running back.

However, the coach’s hope for going into the locker room with only a 10-point deficit evaporated when Bolles’ Dexter Carter Jr. got on track.

The son of the Florida State and NFL back with the same name had earlier fumbled a punt return which led to Keystone’s field goal and early 3-0 lead.

However, on Bolles’ final possession of the first half, Carter caught a 15-yard pass from quarterback Joe Edden to the Keystone 10, ran for 17 yards on a reverse following a Bolles holding penalty, and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Edden with 57 seconds left in the half, giving the Bulldogs a 19-3 halftime lead.

Carter started the second half in the same way he finished the first, rushing for a 42-yard touchdown on the second play of the third quarter, and extending the visitors’ lead to 25-3.  The Indians blocked Alex Lucansky’s extra point attempt.

Bolles’ final score came later in the third quarter.  The Bulldogs completed a 10-play drive culminating with a five-yard Christian Bermudez run.  Erika Clark added the extra point giving Bolles a 32-3 lead with 4:54 left in the third quarter.

Keystone scored its sole touchdown late in the fourth quarter with an eight-play drive starting on its own 47. Gilio ran for a 13-yard gain during the series and Michael Carroll contributed a run of four yards.  Lane Blanton powered the drive with runs of three, eight, 12, 19 and three yards before scoring on a one-yard plunge with 56 seconds left in the game.  J.J. Schofield added the point after touchdown resulting in a final score of 32-10.

After the game, Dickinson repeated a complement he had given his squad throughout the season, praising his players’ persistence and resiliency.

“They played hard,” he said.  “We just got so many injuries, but the kids never gave up.  They battled the whole time.

Dickinson said that with the exception of the team’s final regular season game against Santa Fe, the Indians played well in every contest.

“Even Union,” he said, which we lost 21-7, but we played hard.”

However the team could not overcome injuries to key players, especially in the offensive backfield.  Those injuries were amplified by the team’s 30-man roster, which forced Dickinson to play many players on both defense and offense.

Bolles listed 68 players on its roster.

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