High School Sports

Pearl overpowers St. Martin in first-round showdown

St. Martin running back Jovann"Ham" Mcgee (1) finished the season with almost 1,400 yards rushing for the Yellow Jackets.
St. Martin running back Jovann"Ham" Mcgee (1) finished the season with almost 1,400 yards rushing for the Yellow Jackets. Special to the Sun Herald

It was a David vs. Goliath matchup, and unfortunately for St. Martin’s David Pearl’s Goliath was just too strong.

St. Martin was 6-5, fourth place in Region 4-6A and ranked 66 in the state according to the website MaxPrep. Pearl was 12-0, the winner of 3-6A and ranked third.

Thus it is not surprising that the Pirates won 55-14 in the opening round of the playoffs.

Despite the loss, St. Martin coach Eddie Whitehead is upbeat about his team’s future.

“We have all of our kids coming back,” he said. “We wanted to take a step by making the playoffs. We didn’t want to go out like this, but our kids played hard.”

Junior Ham McGee, the Yellow Jackets’ top offensive threat with 1,354 yards coming into the game, was in on only a few plays.

“He was banged up all week. He didn’t practice” Whitehead said. “He had a foot injury and he broke his hand last week.”

It didn’t take Pearl long to get its offense in high gear. On the game’s opening possession, Jake Smithhart hooked up with Johnquarise Patterson for a 49-yard touchdown pass on third and 27.

It was 34-0 at the half on three short TD runs by Johnny Winston and and one by Steve Alexander.

Smithhart was 6 of 8 passing in the first half for 194 yards. He added a 17-yard scoring pass to Jaylon Stovall before exiting the game midway through the third quarter.

With the score 55-0 after three quarters the game was played with a running clock in the fourth quarter.

St. Martin scored final period TDs on a 41-yard run by Elijah Washington and a 50-yard pass from Jake Galle to Mileon Graham.

With McGee sidelined, Washington carried the offensive load.

“He showed a lot of heart and a lot of courage tonight,” Whitehead said.

The future certainly looks bright for the Yellow Jackets with only eight seniors on the 57-man roster. Every player who carried the ball or threw a pass for St. Martin this year is an underclassman.

By contrast, Pearl has 30 seniors on a team that reached the 6A championship game last year.

Pearl is the best team St. Martin played this year “without a doubt,” according to Whitehead. “They’re not the biggest team, but they have a lot of speed.”