First published in the Oct. 7 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
There was seemingly no better way to honor the winningest coach in St. Francis history, Jim Bonds, who died from complications of multiple myeloma last year, than with a 32-25 overtime victory against visiting Steele Canyon of Spring Valley in a nonleague game last Friday.
St. Francis and its varsity football team honored the Bonds family with a video tribute and pregame prayer. Bonds was celebrated again at halftime, along with the 2021 St. Francis Hall of Fame inductees.
“This night means so much to our family,” said Tricia Bonds, Jim’s widow, while holding back tears. “It just shows how much my husband was loved, and to honor him like this is beyond anything that we ever expected from the St. Francis family, and we are so grateful for this. My husband’s legacy will live on forever, and we’re just so proud to be here for him.”
With four seconds left in the fourth quarter, SFHS junior Clint Geryak’s 20-yard field goal tied the score, 25-25, sending the game into overtime. (He also went three for three in PAT conversions.)
“That was the game. If we don’t make [the field goal], we’re going home,” said Dean Herrington, the Knights’ head coach. “[Geryak] is getting better and better, and he’s going to be one of the top kickers around.”
St. Francis (4-1 record) took the lead in overtime on senior Max Garrison’s two-yard touchdown run. He rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, all of which were team-highs.
On the ensuing possession, Steele Canyon (1-6 record) reached the Golden Knights’ one-yard line to possibly tie the game, but two penalties helped secure St. Francis’ victory, the first at the newly named Jim Bonds Stadium.
St. Francis opened the fourth quarter with a comfortable 22-9 lead, but with 5:50 to play, Steele Canyon found the end zone to cut the Golden Knights’ lead, 22-16.
Steele Canyon then scored on a safety — its second of the game — before mounting a touchdown drive with one minute left in the fourth to gain a 25-22 lead, setting the stage for Gervak’s game-tying field goal.
St. Francis opened the game’s scoring on a perfect pass by junior quarterback Jack Jacobs to Garrison with 10:48 remaining in the second quarter. Steele Canyon’s offsides penalty prior to the PAT created an opportunity for a two-point conversion by Garrison, which was successful in giving the Golden Knights an 8-0 lead.
However, the visiting Cougars took their first lead, at 9-8, when they scored on a safety, touchdown and successful conversion kick.
With 1:10 left to play in the second quarter, Jacobs completed a 25-yard pass to senior Myles Shannon to help set up the go-ahead touchdown. With 10 seconds left, Jacobs ran to paydirt and Geryak’s PAT was successful for a 15-9 lead at halftime.
Jacobs completed 15 of 26 passes for 143 yards and also rushed for 36 yards on 13 carries.
Sophomore Preston Jernegan had seven receptions for 89 yards, Shannon added two catches for 44 yards, and senior Mayze Bryant added three receptions for 16 yards.
“Our offensive line played well, like they always do,” Herrington said. “It was a good win.”
Aside from a fourth-quarter hiccup, St. Francis’s defense was sturdy, especially in a scoreless first quarter.
Jernegan earned a team-high 16 tackles (11 solo, five assists) and added a sack in overtime to lock up the victory. Senior Milo Orona had six total tackles and one sack in the fourth quarter.
Senior Aiden Chisum, Bryant, Shannon and junior George Cupp each recorded six total tackles, while sophomore Phillip Ocon and senior Duncan Sprengel both added five.
The Golden Knights will look to extend their three-game win streak as they host Granite Hills of Apple Valley in a nonleague game on Friday, Oct. 8, at 6 p.m.