First Baptiste to a Class 2A State Semi win, 100th win in the program

In 2009, Billy Sparacio faced a daunting challenge.

After leaving Barron Collier in 2007, Sparacio joined First Baptist, a school that was looking for an athletic director to create the school’s athletic department from scratch.

One of those programs is on the verge of a milestone, with much more than just a Class 2A semi-final spot on the line.

If the Lions (9-1) beat Northside Christian (7-2) on Friday night, it would give the FBA football team their 100th win in program history.

“It’s very humiliating,” Sparacio said. “It’s a blessing. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a lot of hard work. It’s been tough. We fought, but I do it with great guys. We have a great staff that I have been. blessed with.

“I think the continuity of the coaches – the kids change, you have new kids every three or four years – but the coaches have been very, very consistent. The support we get from the school is great. FBA is a great one. special place. It’s a family atmosphere. “

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Three nuggets

1. FBA leads all-time series with Northside Christian, 2-1

2. Northside Christian eighth-grade Will Griffin and FBA junior Ty Keller both passed the 2,000-yard mark this year, throwing 2,232 and 2,197 yards, respectively.

3. FBA’s Olsen Patt Henry Needs 85 Yards To Eclipse 1,000 Yards In A Single Season

First Baptist has grown into a small school powerhouse in Southwest Florida, posting 99 wins for just 41 losses, winning over 70% of its games since its inception. This season, the Lions are averaging 39.6 points per game – the second most in program history, behind the 2012 squad that reached the state semifinals that year.

“The coaches are working very hard to help us prepare for the game,” said junior Rich Mellien. “It would be really special if we took this one home and win the game. We’re all concerned. We will.”

“It would be really great to be a regional champion and take 100th place for us,” added senior linebacker Jimmy Ridinger.

Coming back to the bottom four is a real possibility for the Lions. After being stuck in an area with Catholic Champagnat, winner of three state championships in the past five years, the area moved north, stretching along I-75 and the coast of gulf to the Tampa Bay area.

First Baptist Year Record

2009: 3-5

2010: 4-6

2011: 8-3

2012: 12-1

2013: 9-2

2014 : 8-5

2015 : 11-2

2016: 8-4

2017: 6-3

2018: 4-6

2019: 10-1

2020: 7-2

2021: 9-1

Sparacio and the Lions will first have to beat Northside Christian. The Mustangs, originally from St. Petersburg, are coached by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and NFL full-back Mike Alstott, who has been a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time NFL All-Pro First Team in a career. of 11 years in the League.

“I think we just do what we do,” Sparacio said. “We have faced Coach Alstott a few times over the years and had battles back then. We played them a few times and had good games against them. The kids make the games. We just have them. put in places to be successful and then they produce.

“I’m glad (Alstott) isn’t going to run the ball. He has a very good team, and he trains them well. We feel great in our team so it will be great fun with our kids walking up to the challenge. . “

First Baptist Academy Head Coach Billy Sparacio screams during the Regional Class 2A Football Semifinals between Seffner Christian and First Baptist on Friday November 19, 2021 at the First Baptist Academy in Naples, Fla.

Seffner Christian (7-2) at First Baptist (9-1)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

To watch – Seffner Christian: This is a game for a place in the 2A State Final Four class. The Mustangs, coached by former NFL back and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Alstott, came back from a 21-0 deficit to beat CSN, 32-27 at home. For comparison, the Lions beat CSN, 57-28. Eighth-year quarterback Will Griffin showed poise and is impressive for a college kid, throwing for 2,232 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Zuri Watson and Justin Stephens lead the Mustangs on rushing, recording 1,233 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. Northside enters this game on a five-game winning streak. First Baptist: The Lions beat Seffner Christian last week after a two-week layoff, winning 43-0 and posting their third shutout of the season in the process. Ty Keller threw for 263 yards and five touchdowns, while Rich Mellien caught six passes for 108 yards with three scores. The FBA has allowed seven points or fewer in six games this season, with Michael Votta, Jose Cintron and Jimmy Ridinger all within two tackles of each other for the team lead. More than 80% of the FBA’s takeaways are fumble recoveries, with just five steals all season. Nine defensemen have one fumble this year.

Our selection : First Baptist 38, Northside Christian 20

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