TALLAHASSEE — Blink and you might have missed it.
It took Chaminade-Madonna less than 65 seconds after the opening kickoff to score its first touchdown. It was just the start.
The Lions quick-strike offense scored four times in the first half — all on drives of less than two minutes — and routed Clearwater Central Catholic 48-14 in the Class 1M state championship game Thursday at Gene Cox Stadium.
It’s the second consecutive state championship for the Lions and the program’s fifth in seven years.
“We came out striking,” said Chaminade junior quarterback Cedrick Bailey Jr., who threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns. “We wanted to set the tone for our offense, the defense, the whole team. We got the crowd going and everyone going by setting the tone and making it happen.
“It was just putting the pedal to the metal.”
Chaminade (13-0) dominated the first half, racing out to a 28-0 lead. All four Lions scoring drives were at least 79 yards and took less than two minutes off the clock. Chaminade’s final touchdown drive of the second quarter was an eight-play, 97-yard drive that took 1 minute, 50 seconds.
“That was the goal,” Chaminade coach Dameon Jones. “That’s what we did all year. That’s what we practice every day. Fast, up-tempo offense. That’s what we did. We came out and executed big time in that first half.”
All three of Bailey’s touchdown passes came in the first half, two to star junior receiver Jeremiah Smith. Smith’s first score was the premier highlight of the night — a leaping, one-handed grab along the sideline despite being double-covered. Smith finished the night with six catches for 104 yards. He also had a 100-plus yard performance in the 2021 state championship game against Berkeley Prep.
“I put in a lot of work in the spring and summer, summer workouts, it all paid off,” Smith said. “I’m really proud of this team. We put in a lot of work. The offense is explosive. We can score quick. We have the best offense in the whole country.”
Chaminade running back Davion Gause added 189 yards and scored two touchdowns. Joshisa Trader, Duane Thomas and Bryant Junius also scored for the Lions.
Lenwood Sapp rushed for 95 yards and scored both of Clearwater Central Catholic’s second-half touchdowns. Marauders quarterback Jershaun Newton rushed for team-high 127 yards and threw for 85 yards.
Clearwater Central Catholic finishes the season 12-2.