Buccaneer Football Recap on the Gridiron

The Bucs fall short after an outstanding season

GIMME FIVE: Dallas Golden ’25 gives Nikhil Jefferson ’24 a high five.

The Buccaneers had yet another phenomenal year on the gridiron, battling hard throughout the entirety of the season. Although falling just short of a chance of a regional championship for a second straight season, the Bucs displayed a tremendous amount of time, effort and toughness in each and every game. 


The Buccaneers fell short in their first game of the season to Clearwater Central Catholic where they struggled to find any momentum moving the ball on offense; however, in front of a home crowd and a great showing from the Berkeley Armada, the Bucs claimed their first victory of the season versus Plant, with Dallas Golden ’25 leading the charge with nearly 200 yards rushing and an impressive three touchdowns. 


Carrying their momentum into the following week, the Buccaneers would travel to Ocala, Florida to face West Port in a slightly lopsided game, favoring the Buccaneers forty to seven in the contest. Senior captain Troy Reader ’23 led the way for the Bucs with a great passing attack accounting for over 100 yards and a touchdown. 


Although falling short in their following two contests versus Tampa Catholic and Calvary Christian, starting the season with a record of two and three, the Bucs seemed to be on the decline, however, the Bucs began to turn their season around very quickly.


As the long stretch of away games had ended and it was time for the Buccaneers to play on the newly constructed Bisk Turkel Field for just the second time all season, the Bucs’s defense began to show great amounts of dominance, forcing turnovers and giving their offense great field position nearly every drive. With games against IMG Academy White, Dunedin, Easy Bay and Clearwater, the Bucs’s defense rose to the occasion and allowed an incredible thirteen combined points in that four-game stretch, showing massive amounts of strides from the first half of the season. 


Furthermore, running back Golden continued to make his name known as a nightmare for the opposing team to bring down, accounting for over 550 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns in that stretch. 


On the defensive side, the Bucs led by Keon Keeley ’23, Brice Stevenson ’23, Xavier Perkins ’23, Nikhil Jefferson ’24 and Titus Bullard ’24, dominated in the trenches, forcing an astonishing 17 sacks and displaying one of the best overall defensive lines in the Tampa Bay area. 


In an attempt to cap off the regular season in front of a massive Homecoming and Senior Night crowd, the Buccaneers were able to dominate one last time, facing off versus Robinson and winning in decisively 62-7. 


With massive implications on the line, the Bucs would yet again face Robinson the following week. Quickly, the Bucs struck first with Damien Henderson ’23 rushing for a seven-yard touchdown to take the early lead. On the following defensive series, Rico Garcia ’25 intercepted a pass thrown by the Panthers, setting up what would be a rushing touchdown by Reader on a quarterback keeper up the middle, expanding the lead to 14. 


The Bucs would sustain this dominance against the Panthers winning the contest 42-13, with highlights coming from Golden’s 45-yard rushing touchdown, ultimately putting the dagger in the game. As the following week continued and the Bucs maintained their strides for perfection during practice, their away playoff game versus Calvary Christian had a ton of anticipation from not just the players but from the fans as well. 


On a perfect November night for football, the Bucs and the Warriors faced off once again to decide which team would compete in the regional championship the following week. With the Buccaneers dominating in the first, leading 14-0, the Warriors were able to quickly march back and tie the game at 14-14 before the Bucs retook the lead with an electrifying 78-yard rushing touchdown from Golden; however, the Warriors were able to tie the game back up in the final minute of the fourth quarter, forcing overtime. 


The overtime period, unfortunately, did not go in the favor of the Bucs as the Warriors were able to complete a two-point conversion to take the game and win by a score of 29-28. With the season coming to an abrupt end and being the final game for multiple seniors, we would like to take a quick moment and appreciate the amount of time and dedication this group has put into such an incredible season, and a special thanks to head coach Dominick Ciao on another incredibly coached team. The Buccaneers would ultimately finish the season eight and four as district runner-ups.