HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Hurricanes will hit ground running


Chris Thompson, a Florida commitment, is just one of many weapons for GHS.

Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.

How's this for openers?

One of the best high school football running backs in the state of Florida faces one of the best defenses in Florida.

That's the matchup tonight at Citizens Field when the Class 6A, No. 3 Gainesville Hurricanes open their 2012 season against 4A Yulee and heralded recruit Derrick Henry, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound back who has rushed for more than 5,000 yards over the last two years.

Intrigued?

For those who can't make it, this game will not only be on the radio (104.9 FM), but also will be streaming live on FoxSportsFlorida.com.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

This will be the first of two straight Thursday games for the Hurricanes, who lost in the regional finals last year to Seffner Armwood. Next Thursday? Class 6A No. 5 Columbia.

“He is Yulee,” GHS coach James Thomson said of Henry. “That is the first thing you have to stop is him. It takes about a half to get used to him. After about a half, you get accustomed to his runs. If we can just continue to play. He is so far ahead of any back we will face.”

A year ago in Thomson's first game as coach, the Hurricanes trailed the Hornets 20-14 at the half in Yulee. Henry had 125 yards on just 18 carries at that point, including a 67-yard touchdown burst.

The second half was a different story.

Henry was held to 56 yards, and Yulee's offense failed to score. GHS got a key 70-yard touchdown pass from Mark Cato to Chris Bivins to ice the game.

For the second straight year, Gainesville beat 8A No. 3 Orlando Dr. Phillips in the preseason, this time on the road, 23-12. Although the score looks good, Thomson wasn't satisfied.

“I think we have a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “We didn't play our best. We have a ways to go.”

Offensively, Cato will have plenty of weapons to turn to with UF commit Chris Thompson at wide receiver, running back Ralph Webb and speedster Tony James, who had three carries for 65 yards against Dr. Phillips.

“He is just so fast,” Thomson said. “The key is just to give him space and let him run. Having him, Chris Thompson and Ralph Webb on the field together is pretty exciting.”

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