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Chaminade-Madonna (Florida) tops American Heritage to remain unbeaten

Former NFL star Cam Newton and Miami coach Mario Cristobal were also among the sold out crowd which took in the battle between South Florida football powers
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PLANTATION, FLORIDA – An anticipated shootout turned into a ground and pound contest.

No matter the style of play, Chaminade-Madonna continues to take care of business.

On Friday night, it wasn’t a vintage high-scoring affair, but the Lions were able to hold off American Heritage, 28-16, on the road in front of a sellout of close to 3,000.

The match-up of nationally ranked powers drew plenty of attention. Tickets were sold on-line, and Heritage announced it was a sellout at 1 p.m.

University of Miami coach Mario Cristobal was on the sidelines, as was former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Cam Newton, who posed for selfies with the fans at halftime. More than 100 media requests were made. UM freshman, Mark Fletcher, who played at Heritage last year, also was on hand.

As for the game itself, Chaminade (4-0) jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Lions were unable to pull away. The Patriots (2-1) showed why they have plenty of promise. With a young roster, they held tough, and began doing damage on the ground.

“We’ve got so much stuff to clean up,” Lions coach Dameon Jones said. “Like I tell them every week, nobody can stop us except us.”

Former NFL star Cam Newton signs autographs for some of the sold out crowd on hand to see Chaminade-Madonna defeat American Heritage on Friday.

Former NFL star Cam Newton signs autographs for some of the sold out crowd on hand to see Chaminade-Madonna defeat American Heritage on Friday.

A fast start for Lions

Early on, it looked like it would be a blowout. Chaminade opened the scoring on Curtis Janvier’s 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. Cedrick Bailey (North Carolina State commit) then connected on touchdown passes of 13 and 26 yards to Jeremiah Smith (Ohio State commit). That made it 21-0 in the first quarter.

Smith finished with six catches for 92 yards.

For the game, Bailey was 10-for-15 for 142 yards, two TDs and an interception in the first half.

Chaminade also welcomed back five-star receiver and University of Miami commit, Joshisa Trader, who injured his right shoulder in the first game of the season.

“We came out fast,” Jones said. “We came out fast last week as well.”

American Heritage relies on the run to get back in it

Heritage showed why it reached the Class 2M state finals last year, and why it promises to be a factor again this year.

The Patriots are just young. They have a sophomore quarterback in Dia Bell, and their top receivers are sophomores as well.

Junior running back Byron Louis became a force by the second quarter. Louis is the Patriots’ most physical rusher, and he finished the game with 114 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Heritage’s last touchdown was a 2-yard run by Deandre Desinor with 6:05 left in the game.

The more physical play took its toll on the Lions’ defense, as several of their players dealt with cramps.

“We’ve just got to keep battling,” Heritage coach Mike Smith said. “This is a process that we’re going to have to go through. We’re a new group of kids, and the first two [games] were kind of smooth, but there’s going to be some ups and downs here. We kind of needed this tonight.”

Spotlight match-up: Jeremiah Smith vs. Xavier Lucas

The most interesting match-up of the night was Smith, the five-star receiver, being covered by four-star cornerback, Xavier Lucas (Wisconsin). In the first quarter, Smith broke loose for two touchdowns. At halftime, Smith had five catches for 77 yards.

In the second half, Heritage did a good job neutralizing the Lions’ passing game. Smith was limited to one catch for five yards.

Lucas nearly had what could have been a pick-six with Chaminade ahead, 21-10. The senior cornerback made a nice play, but was unable to get the key interception.

The importance of that play is magnified by the fact Chaminade ended up scoring its final touchdown on that drive.

“Guys are like, ‘Ah, man, I almost had that,’“ Smith said. “I tell the guys all the time, a dropped pick is second down, that’s all it is. It’s second down. It’s a great play, but a second down.”

In the next few years, these two elite Broward County players could be matched up in Big 10 games on Saturday.

Chaminade’s next wave of talent

It’s no secret how Chaminade is loaded with Division 1-caliber players. The Lions’ depth is a big reason they are favorites to repeat as Class 1M state champions, and they may end up as national champs.

A name to keep an eye on in the future is freshman Arwin Jackson, who scored the Lions’ final touchdown on a 1-yard run.

Jackson, who runs track, is considered the fastest player on the Lions. That’s saying something. Davion Gause (North Carolina commit) is the Lions’ starting back. But Jackson is seeing plenty of action early.

“He’s a dog,” Jones said of Jackson. “If he ever gets a crease, he gone. He’s probably the fastest player on our team. He’s a track guy. He can go. He’s probably like, 10.4 [seconds in the 100 yards]. He can go.”

Chaminade-Madonna head coach Dameon Jones addresses his squad after the Lions topped American Heritage in South Florida on Friday night.

Chaminade-Madonna head coach Dameon Jones addresses his squad after the Lions topped American Heritage in South Florida on Friday night.

Chaminade vs. Miami-Central is next

Chaminade is playing one of the toughest schedules in the country to start its season. They’ve already beaten St. Frances Academy (Baltimore), Cardinal Gibbons, Bergen Catholic (New Jersey) and Heritage all handily. The Lions have outscored their opponents, 165-55.

Next week is the game everyone has circled: Chaminade at Miami Central at Nathaniel Traz Stadium.

Until now, Jones said his players were focused on each opponent, not facing the Rockets next Thursday (Sept. 21).

“We didn’t think about Miami Central, at all,” Jones said. “Now we can. The focus was Heritage.”