TAMPA – If there were any naysayers regarding the ability and potential of Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep athlete Nelson Agholor on Friday night in the stands at Standford J. Newman Stadium, their critiques were – in no uncertain terms – put to rest during a masterful performance by the Under Armour All-American in a 28-0 victory over district rival Tampa Catholic.
The win sealed the Class 3A, District 5 championship for Berkeley Prep, also assuring the Buccaneers of home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.
In front of a raucous home crowd, Agholor sliced-and-diced the Crusaders to the tune of 312 yards rushing and a pair of long third quarter touchdown runs which turned a close game at the half into a rout for the Bucs as they moved to 9-0 on the season.
Afterwards, Agholor was quick to deflect the accolades regarding his performance.
“We’re all shaking hands and hugging in the locker room,” Agholor said following the win. “That was a great team victory.”
Tampa Catholic was able to keep Agholor relatively in check for a good deal of the first half, heading to the break down just 7-0. However, it took just one play for Agholor to break the game open. At the 8:30 mark of the third quarter, he took a handoff and sprinted towards the Berkeley sideline and away from the defense for a 78-yard touchdown to give the Bucs a 14-0 lead.
Agholor’s ankle-breaking moves, including a nifty move on a 35-yard fourth quarter touchdown that brought to mind memories of Ike Hilliard’s “Stop-and-Pop” move against Florida State in the 1997 Sugar Bowl were the toast of post-game discussion. However, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete was quick to dismiss the notion that he has the type of vision that other great players at the position have been noted for.
“There’s a lot of great running backs that see a lot of things,” he noted. “I think it’s that one extra second that the offensive line gives me to find a hole or a little gap. Honestly, I give credit to that.”
In one late third quarter sequence, Agholor showed just what kind of versatility he possesses. After assisting on a fourth-and-goal stop right at the goal along the Berkeley Prep sideline, he took a handoff and jetted 77 yards to pay dirt just a few plays later. The score would extend the Buccaneers’ lead to 21-0 with 1:10 to play in the third period and effectively put the game out of reach for Tampa Catholic.
Now, with a district title under their belt, Agholor and his teammates have the look of a team that could make some real noise when the FHSAA playoffs kickoff in under a fortnight. Still, Agholor says Berkeley Prep is not interested in allowing their focus to drift towards Orlando until they have secured that bid where it counts – on the field.
“We’re going to stay hungry,” Agholor explained. “We’re 9-0 right now. I haven’t seen the attitude change for anybody. There’s no complacency in that locker room. We know what it’s like to lose, we know what it’s like to fail.”
But that doesn’t mean Agholor and his teammates can’t revel in the afterglow of such a big win. Both he and a teammate – fullback/linebacker Schyler Miles – will head to Gainesville tomorrow afternoon to watch the Gators host Vanderbilt in the Swamp for homecoming.
“Myself and my teammate [Miles] will take a visit up there tomorrow,” he reports. “We told everyone we’re not going up there unless we win tonight. The coaching staff knows that – everybody knows that. But we got it done here tonight – I think we’ll take the opportunity to take a little vacation.”
Berkeley Prep concludes their regular season next Friday at home against Arcadia (Fla.) DeSoto County. The Buccaneers will look to conclude their pre-playoff slate with a perfect record of 10-0 against the Bulldogs.