- December 28, 2017
ORLANDO It was the teams' first meeting since 2002.
When it was all said and done, it was the first time the Royals had beat the Highlanders in 10 attempts.
But what was most important to The First Academy head coach Leroy Kinard afterward was that his program, which remained undefeated and improved to 8-0, had knocked off a team that is likely headed to the Class 4A Playoffs on its home field.
"We think that Lake Highland is a quality football team and we had to win this game in order to secure a playoff berth — we didn't think about it in terms of (beating the Highlanders for the) first time in school history," Kinard said. "The point of emphasis was playing a playoff-caliber team on their home field."
Kinard's Royals capitalized on four first-half turnovers by the Highlanders (6-2) and overcame an early injury to standout running back Rolous Frazier.
Alex Eleyssami threw for two touchdowns for TFA — one to Matt Edwards in the first half and the other to Alex Shields in the third quarter. Parker Mara rushed for the Royals' first touchdown.
In the end, though, it was the TFA's defense that came up big and got the stops it needed to. The Royals' 'D' has, in spots, had trouble and given up more points than the staff would like, but Kinard applauded the unit afterward for showing grit in big moments throughout the fall.
"What you have to remember is we're really young on defense and because we're young, we're going to make young mistakes," Kinard said. "What I like about this group is their a fun-loving group and they just continue to play."
TFA will complete the regular season Nov. 3 at home against The Villages Charter.