Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. HomeTeam

Berkeley Prep denied first state football title by Chaminade-Madonna

The Hollywood team, regulars in the state championship game over the years, gets the shutout in the Class 3A final.
Berkeley Prep defensive back TJ Bullard, who led the Bucs with 12 tackles, often found himself in the same position as his teammates - chasing Chaminade-Madonna rushers from behind in the Class 3A state title game Friday night.
Berkeley Prep defensive back TJ Bullard, who led the Bucs with 12 tackles, often found himself in the same position as his teammates - chasing Chaminade-Madonna rushers from behind in the Class 3A state title game Friday night. [ SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times ]
Published Dec. 11, 2021
Updated Dec. 11, 2021

TALLAHASSEE — The sky high hopes of Berkeley Prep winning its first state football title and snapping a 10-year football championship drought for Tampa Bay ended Friday night in the Class 3A state final under a thick fog at Gene Cox Stadium.

Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna simply had too much speed, size and strength — particularly with its ferocious defensive front four — for the Bucs to overcome.

Chaminade-Madonna, which has played in the last six 3A championship games, won its fourth title in that span, this time 21-0.

“You have to give a lot of credit to Chaminade,” Berkeley Prep coach Dominick Ciao said. “They just have a tremendous team.”

When asked if the Bucs had seen anything close to the Lions defense, Ciao shook his head and said matter-of-factly, “No.”

The Bucs, who averaged 361 yards of total offense and 297 rushing yards a game coming into Friday night, gained only 31 on the ground against Chaminade. The Bucs’ average gain per play was 1.5 yards.

“We knew we would have to play an absolutely perfect game to have a chance to win tonight,” Ciao said. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen.”

Berkeley Prep senior middle linebacker Tre Reader is consoled by coach Dominick Ciao moments after the Bucs' loss.
Berkeley Prep senior middle linebacker Tre Reader is consoled by coach Dominick Ciao moments after the Bucs' loss. [ SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times ]

It was a bittersweet ending after an historic season for Berkeley Prep, which was playing in its first-ever state football final after a 12-0 season.

The game also marked Ciao’s second appearance in a state final, the first since 1992 when he coached Jesuit, which fell in that title game 28-16 to Pasco.

Through the first half Friday, despite their offensive struggles, it appeared the Bucs (12-1) might actually have a chance to pull off the upset against Chaminade (11-1 and ranked No. 5 overall in the state by MaxPreps).

The Bucs defense, led by swarming defensive back TJ Bullard (game-high 12 tackles) and the constant pressure from Notre Dame defensive end commit Keon Keeley, had held the Lions offense to just seven first-half points.

Chaminade, however, broke off a couple of periodic long runs (34 and 45 yards) and pass completions (32 and 46 yards), and took an insurmountable 21-0 early in fourth quarter. By game’s end, the Lions outgained the Bucs 433 yards to 61.

Berkeley Prep quarterback Troy Reader was often on the run from the ferocious Chaminade-Madonna defensive line Friday night.
Berkeley Prep quarterback Troy Reader was often on the run from the ferocious Chaminade-Madonna defensive line Friday night. [ SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times ]

With the lead, Chaminade’s star defensive ends, Ohio State commit Kenyatta Jackson and UCF commit Jamaal Johnson, pinned back their ears and came hard at Berkeley quarterback Troy Reader, who completed three passes for 30 yards and was sacked three times.

After talking to his team, Ciao came out of the locker room emotional and feeling for his players who competed so hard and well all season.

“I told the team that in my lifetime I will never be able to repay their passion, commitment and love they brought to the game,” Ciao said. “I told them I will always appreciate the effort they gave to this team. They gave it everything they had.”

High school football state finals

AT DRV PNK STADIUM, FORT LAUDERDALE

7A: Tampa Bay Tech vs. Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, 7 p.m. Dec. 17

6A: Jesuit vs. Pensacola Pine Forest, 7 p.m. Dec. 18