JENSEN BEACH — Playmakers have helped this year’s Jensen Beach flag football team become dynamic with the number of different players that can step into a big moment.
Four different Falcons came away with huge interceptions including two from Julia Thurlow, who also caught two touchdown passes from Courtney Cromer to help Jensen Beach beat Jones 20-14 and advance to the state semifinals. 1A for the second straight season.
It was the second straight game the Falcons had five interceptions that helped Jensen Beach return from Ocala with a 20-15 victory over Trinity Catholic last Thursday in the 3-1A regional semifinal.
Aiming to return to the state semifinals in consecutive seasons and for the third time in program history, the Falcons (18-3) trailed 7-0 at the end of the first quarter but won the game with their play in the middle two quarters with huge plays coming at the right time.
The Falcon Ballhawks shine
Thurlow got a pass early in the second quarter after pressure from Bella Faherty on the Tiger quarterback forced an errant pass deep into Jones territory.
On a fourth and one-of-five, Cromer threw almost the same pass to a cutting Thurlow in the middle on which they connected to win their regional quarter-final in overtime against Seabreeze last week for a touchdown and Faherty made a socket for the conversion to a point.
Three minutes later, Mia Quiles swept past a pass from Jones and collected it to hand the ball to Jensen Beach in midfield, but the Falcons would enter the half still tied at 7.
Thurlow started the third quarter with his second interception of the game which again gave the Falcons great field position and shortly after Faherty, celebrating his 18th birthday, ran through the Tiger defense for a 15-yard touchdown. to put Jensen Beach ahead 13-7.
In Jones’ next practice, senior Angelina Arguelles picked a good time to walk away with her first interception of the season which again put the Falcons in excellent position on the field.
“It was just a short drive to the middle and I went under it, hooked it up and took off,” Arguelles said.
A play later, Cromer hit Thurlow on a crossover route and the elder sped around the sideline into the end zone for his second touchdown and the one-point conversion catch from Vivian Alcade but Jensen Beach up 20-7.
Jensen Beach Flag Football Advances to State 1A Semifinals for Second Consecutive Year
Jensen Beach flag football advances to the State 1A semifinals for the second straight year with a 20-14 win over Jones on Monday night.
After Jones scored a touchdown late in the third quarter to cut the margin to 20-7, junior Melody McAfee made the last interception of the game midway through the fourth quarter to stop a Tiger drive in midfield.
“It’s kids like Melody who found a pick that’s not known for her hands. She’s a swimmer, so the only thing she does really well with her hands is cut through water “said Falcon head coach Aaron Gilbert. “For her, finding a choice was huge and Angelica, I texted her earlier today, you’ve been around the ball so much and you’re going to have one today.”
Next stop: Jacksonville
The mesh of players and personalities from this year’s Falcon team while having remnants of last year’s team is a dynamic fueled by other personalities from the Jensen Beach sports program who want to be part of the program. of Gilbert.
Faherty, who traveled to Jacksonville to play soccer, and Thurlow, a volleyball star in his Falcon career, made a huge impact on an already skill-laden team.
Junior Lauren Duke thinks the competitive edge that other players have had with Jensen Beach sports teams, especially with volleyball, swimming and soccer having success in state tournaments, will be something which they can rely on in the state semi-finals.
“I think a lot of us play other sports as well, so we’ve been in these big situations like that and we know what it takes, but I don’t think the moment will get too big for us. because Gilly prepared us to our maximum capacity,” Duke said. “Our mindset is that it’s just another game that we’re all playing together.”
The final four 1A teams to face for Jensen Beach will be five-time defending 1A state champions Tampa Robinson, Miami Edison and Choctawhatchee.
With the Falcons being the lowest-ranked team in the latest FHSAA rankings, it looks like Jensen Beach will have a tough challenge with the Knights on Friday at 2 p.m. at Mandarin High School.
Given that his side have shown their ability to attack the task at hand at every stage of the season, Arguelles and the Falcons will not shy away from the challenge.
“I think we have a really strong connection as a team and I think that connection and energy alone is enough to bring everyone together and bring them to the present moment,” Arguelles said. “We’ve been in very (high) pressure situations this season and this is just another. We thrive under pressure.”