- November 23, 2019
The old saying of “big things come in small packages” rang true during The First Academy’s 40-20 win over Father Lopez (9-3, 1-1) in the Class 3A regional semifinal on a chilly Friday night at Warden Stadium.
At 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, Royals’ senior running back Rolous Frazier may be small in stature, but on the football field he is the man everyone watches.
“Here’s the thing, he is as good a player as we have ever had,” said Royals head coach Leroy Kinard. “He’s not the biggest guy in the world, so when we talk to these college recruiters, we’re like, “Look, you have to believe us, this guy is a legit college football player.' He is a serious player.”
The shifty back zipped his way around the Green Wave defense all night long, as he helped lead the way for the Royals’ (9-1, 1-0) offensive explosion with 279 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries.
Frazier kicked off the scoring early when, on the second play from scrimmage, he broke free down the left side of the field on a 74-yard touchdown run to take the lead.
Following a quick three-and-out by the Green Wave’s first offensive possession of the game, the Royals would land another blow when Frazier gashed the Wave defense on an 11-yard touchdown run — making it 14-0 less than four minutes into the matchup.
While Frazier helped the Royals take control of the first half, the defense itself also had one of heck of a showing, as it held the usually potent Wave offense — which had averaged 30 points per game — to a big ol’ goose egg going into the half.
Despite the lead, Kinard wasn’t looking ahead, as he knew that the Green Wave had made the playoffs for a reason: Because they’re good.
“I think at halftime I just wanted to make sure that they understood that that team wasn’t going to quit, and they’re going to come out and fight, which is exactly what happened in the third quarter,” Kinard said. “We had to weather the storm, and I thought we did weather the storm. After that we got our bearings about us and pulled away a little bit.”
Most coaches will tell you that fewer moments in a game are bigger than the first five minutes of the second half — it’s a time where teams set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Green Wave came out as the more assertive team, as running back Nathan Braswell eluded would-be tacklers left-and-right to pick up the 37-yard touchdown to put the Wave on the board.
For the rest of the game the Royals and Green Wave would exchange score after score, including two rushing touchdowns for the home-side and a 73-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Father Lopez’s Eddie Whipple.
But luckily, thanks to an early advantage and two big touchdowns in the fourth quarter — a 49-yard run by Frazier and a 45-yard toss from quarterback Matt Edwards to Lake Ellis — the Royals were able to push ahead and grab the 40-20 win.
“I think anytime you have an opportunity to get to the (regional) finals I think you have to like your chances,” Kinard said. “We have a lot of guys that are healthy, and because we have guys that are healthy, I think we have as good of a chance as they do.”
While the TFA coaches and players will get to enjoy the holiday this week, they won’t have long to sleep off their Thanksgiving dinner, as the Royals will ride down to West Palm Beach next Friday, Nov. 23, to take on the 10-1 King’s Academy in the regional final.