The Out-of-Door Academy could only muster six points in its last two games prior to Friday night’s game against Kennedy Catholic (New York).
Colin Castro matched that scoring total on ODA’s first play from scrimmage against the Gaels. Everything else the Thunder got was just an added bonus in their 23-0 victory in the second “Battle at the Beach.”
Kennedy held the ball for nearly half of the opening quarter, but could only muster four yards of total offense on top of a couple of ODA penalties. When the Thunder finally got the ball, Castro took a pitch to the right side, broke a couple of tackles and won a foot race down the right sideline for a 58-yard touchdown.
Defense and penalties ruled the game for most of the first half. ODA managed to recover a Kennedy fumble at the Gaels’ 30-yard line but came up short when Castro was stopped on fourth down.
Castro would make up for it two plays later when he intercepted a tipped throw from Kennedy quarterback Zach Sellinger for the second ODA pick of the first half. Filip Svoboda connected on a 29-yard field goal at the gun for a 10-0 Thunder lead.
ODA’s defense continued dominating the game in the second half. The Thunder forced four turnovers — including two picks by Tanner Fairchild, one of which sealed the shutout — recorded six sacks and had numerous tackles for losses.
Kennedy could only manage 163 total yards. Most of those came after ODA already had the game in hand.
“That’s probably the best defensive performance we’ve had since I’ve been here in three years,” said ODA head coach Chris Kempton. “I thought we really controlled the line of scrimmage on defense.”
Kennedy head coach Dominick Tassone, a former Southeast assistant, heaped praise on the Thunder defense.
“Their defensive game plan was very good,” Tassone said. “We got nicked up early, but they’re a good football team.”
Svoboda went on to add field goals of 41 and 30 yards in the third quarter. He also drilled a 58-yard punt that rolled out of bounds inside the Kennedy 2-yard line in addition to finishing with three catches for 45 yards.
“He was phenomenal tonight,” Kempton said. “He’s such a great weapon and that made them have to drive the field.”
Tyler Beasley hit Julien Brown for a 65-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. Castro helped run down the clock at the end of the night and finished with 145 yards on 26 carries.
“This is a great step for us,” Kempton said. “Sunshine State Athletic Conference wild cards are coming out in the next week or so, and we really feel like we’re deserving of one of those spots.”
Tassone said he hoped his team’s second trip to Florida would end in a better result. The Gales lost last year’s meeting to the Thunder as well.
“We’re happy that we came down again,” he said. “It was a good football game and hopefully it provided a good test for us going forward.”
ODA improves to 5-2 and wraps up the regular season with a road game at St. Pete Catholic.