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Bishop Verot comes up short in playoff clash, 35-28

Vikings season ends in heartbreaker

November 23, 2019
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze


Bishop Verot's football season came to an end Friday night at Viking Stadium as it dropped a heartbreaker, 35-28, to Clearwater Central Catholic High School in a Class 3A regional final match-up.

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Bishop Verot junior Jacob Azizi (16) threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns during the Vikings' 35-28 loss Friday night.

Both teams traded blows all night, as a powerhouse defense in Verot (9-3) took on a Clearwater Central Catholic (10-3) team with serious playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.

The Vikings had a chance to send the game to overtime in the final minute, but were held on the Marauders' 11-yard line on four straight plays that resulted in a turnover on downs.

"I mean, I'm extremely proud of our guys," said Verot Head Coach Josh Vogelbach. "You get down early, you fight back, you fight back I'm just so proud of our guys. It never ends the way you want it to. But I'm extremely proud, I can't say it enough. These seniors -- I told them before the game, I told them after the game -- they put Verot back on the map."

The Vikings got off to a fast start thanks to a fast senior in Tequon Chatman, who took Verot's first offensive play 48 yards up the left sideline and into the end zone after the defense forced a CCC three-and-out.

It was all Marauders up until the end of the half, as the visitors scored 21 unanswered points via a Johnny Newton 3-yard run, a Jordan Niles 49-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Zach Burrill and Niles once again on a 43-yard run.

The tandem of Niles and Newton ran well all night for CCC. Niles brought the quickness and Newton brought the power -- all 6-foot-3, 250-pounds of the senior back/defensive end.

On Verot's final drive before the half, senior quarterback Nick Perez, who emerged late in the season and gained the full trust of Vogelbach, hurt his throwing hand on a 37-yard pass to Malik Curtis.

Junior quarterback, and season starter, Jacob Azizi, replaced Perez for most of the game -- save for running situations -- and had a fantastic 24-plus minutes of play under center.

Azizi found Curtis -- who had a monster game -- for a 31-yard touchdown, as the junior wide out went up between two Marauder defenders to haul in the catch that brought the Vikings within one score, 21-14, heading into the break.

"The touchdown Malik (Curtis) had right before half was enormous," Vogelbach said.

The Vikings would get the ball to start the half, but came up short of a score when sure-footed Deaglan Camron missed a 21-yard field goal.

Verot's defense forced a CCC punt on its next possession, and the offense went back to work right away. This time, they only needed three plays to score, as Azizi found Curtis in the flat on a screen pass, and the speedster took it to the house for a 50-yard touchdown to knot the game at 21.

"Malik Curtis is a problem," Vogelbach said of his receiver.

The fourth quarter was not for the weak of heart, as the two teams who have battled all year were even heading into the final 12 minutes.

CCC struck first, as Niles took a handoff around the right side of the Verot defense from the 12-yard line and into the end zone.

A bad snap on a Verot punt attempt on the ensuing possession gave CCC great field position on the Viking 30-yard line.

Newton found paydirt on the fourth play of the drive, refusing to be brought down by multiple Viking defenders on his way into the end zone for a 18-yard touchdown, giving CCC a two-score lead once again.

Niles complied 195 all-purpose yards and accounted for three touchdowns, while Newton churned his way to 86 rushing yards and two scores of his own.

Verot answered CCC's touchdown immediately, as Curtis took an Azizi pass 83 yards into the end zone, leaving Marauder defenders in his tracks.

Verot's star linebacker/kickoff specialist Derrick Erickson, who was battling a shoulder injury all night, tapped a perfect onside kick that Dominic Febles recovered, giving the Vikings hope in the final minutes of the game.

Azizi and company were set up with a first down on the Marauders' 11-yard line and four chances to score, but unfortunately could not connect with Curtis on fourth down.

"We put (Curtis) on the wheel-angle route, Quon (Chatman) wheeled behind him I mean you can't get mad, you throw it to your guy, (we) might have had Quon on the wheel, but, it is what it is," Vogelbach said of the final play. "We put together what we thought was something nice, but at the end of the day it's always on the coaches. We've got to coach better, the kids played phenomenal."

Azizi finished 12/33 with 295 yards passing and three touchdowns. Curtis reeled in four catches for 201 yards and three scores.

Perez, in a limited role due to his hand injury, threw for 55 yards and added 36 more on the ground -- 20 of those coming on a big third down conversion in the second half.

"It's a testament to their character and the type of kids they are," Vogelbach said of the relationship between Azizi and Perez. "They don't complain, they support each other, they're there for each other and that's why we had so much success this year. Those kids are two of the best young men I've ever been around."

Verot's Erickson is a special player with the perfect mindset to be a football player at a high level, and his coach had high praise of his senior.

"He's the defensive player of the year," Vogelbach said. "If he's not, I'll be calling. He's the best defensive player in Lee County."

Erickson said he won't soon forget his time at Verot. Despite playing with a banged up shoulder for most of the game, and even prior games, he battled. The makeup of his character goes beyond the field of play.

"Heart," Erickson said of how he played through injury during the game. "That's all it is man, it's heart. Just got to fight through it."

Erickson had high praise for his coaches, notably defensive coordinator John Mohring.

"I got the best coach in probably the whole entire state of Florida," Erickson said. "He's pushing me, he's making sure I've got my head in a straight line, and I'm fighting between the lines.

"I didn't want to be out on the field with another group of guys. They were with me the whole season. They have my back, I have their back. It's a brotherhood. I feel like I became a better man today."

CCC will play in the 3A State Semifinal next week against Chaminade-Madonna.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

CCC0 21 0 14 -- 35

BV7 7 7 7 -- 28

1st Quarter

BV: Tequon Chatman, 48-yard run (Deaglan Camron kick), 10:04

2nd Quarter

CCC: Johnny Newton, 3-yard run (Sebastian Przytula kick), 11:55

CCC: Jordan Niles, 49-yard reception from Zach Burrill (Przytula kick), 8:10

CCC: Niles, 43-yard run (Przytula kick), 3:55

BV: Malik Curtis, 31-yard reception from Jacob Azizi (Camron kick), :25

3rd Quarter

BV: Curtis, 50-yard reception from Azizi (Camron kick), 2:54

4th Quarter

CCC: Niles, 12-yard run (Przytula kick), 8:52

CCC: Newton, 18-yard run (Przytula kick), 3:29

BV: Curtis, 83-yard reception from Azizi (Camron kick), 3:09



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