MOORE HAVEN — The Moore Haven High School football season was abbreviated – only four games on the field – but memories of playing in the midst of a global pandemic will no doubt last a lifetime.
It was no surprise that the Terriers – similar to many other Florida high school football programs – endured their share of obstacles along the way. Postponements, cancellations, forfeits and interruptions were the unfamiliar parts of the season, but making it to the playoffs – which the Terriers did for the fourth consecutive season – was nothing new.
In a season like no other, Moore Haven went 1-2 in the regular season and advanced all the way to the Class 2A regional semifinals after receiving a bye in the play-in round and a regional quarterfinal forfeit win against St. John Neumann-Naples, which cancelled the remainder of its season due to a Covid outbreak.
Unfortunately for the Terriers, they met an all too familiar foe in the 2A regional semifinal Nov. 20. Speedy Champagnat Catholic School, a defending state champion from Miami-Dade County – and the heavy favorite to win another title – overwhelmed young Moore Haven, 49-18, at Moore Haven High School. It was the fourth straight year the Terriers season has ended with a playoff loss to Champagnat.
Champagnat flexed its power and took advantage of Terrier miscues to build a 35-0 lead just six minutes into the game. Moore Haven, shaky early with miscues, eventually settled down. Early in the second quarter the Terriers completed an impressive 80-yard scoring drive with a short touchdown run by Johnny Crawford III.
Prior to the game, Moore Haven honored its players from the class of 2021. The senior night procession with family members included the Seminole Tribe’s Ramone Baker, who was escorted by his parents Preston and Mona; and Donovan Harris (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma), who was joined by his mom Cheryl and aunt Angie Fish.
Due to the pandemic, the atmosphere at Joe Brown Stadium wasn’t nearly as electric as it normally is for a senior night and playoff game. The school announced earlier in the week that ticket sales would be limited to 300. No band in the stands meant a far quieter night, although Terrier cheerleaders did their best to keep up the home fans’ spirits.
Baker, a running back and linebacker, played in every game this season; Harris, a fullback and defensive end, played in two. They provided plenty of versatility on both sides of the ball, including in the offensive backfield where they were among the team’s key blockers and even carried the ball at times. Harris barreled his way for 11 hard-earned yards on a carry in the second quarter against Champagnat, although it was called back due to a penalty.
Baker’s senior night on the field didn’t last long. Less than four minutes into the first quarter, he was ejected from the game along with a Champagnat player following a facemask tussle.
Before their final game, Baker and Harris said the highlight of the season was a 21-15 win against Glades Day on Oct. 23. Harris said making a big tackle in the game was his favorite memory of the season.
Finding consistency during a pandemic season was among the challenges Moore Haven had to deal with this fall. Baker, a two-year varsity player, said the lack of games and practice cancellations made it difficult for the team to get into a normal rhythm.
Moore Haven finished with a 2-3 record.
With football season done, Baker and Harris have shifted their focus to the boys basketball team, where they’ll be key players along with football teammate Jaytron Baker.
“We’re going to be good,” Ramone Baker said.
The team is coached by Preston Baker, who was the head coach of the school’s varsity girls team last year.