History Makers: Raines stops Cocoa for state football title

The football trophy case at Raines is getting some long overdue company.

The streak is dead, the mission complete, the legacies set in stone.

The football trophy case at Raines is getting some long overdue company.

The Vikings beat Cocoa 13-10 in the Class 4A state championship game on Thursday, a historic win for Raines and coach Deran Wiley under the lights of Camping World Stadium on a night that felt decades in the making. Only one public school team from Duval County had ever lifted a championship trophy — Raines all the way back in 1997.

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So nearly 20 years to the day after the Vikings edged Belle Glade Glades Central 32-27 for the only crown in Duval public school history, Raines (13-1) added trophy No. 2. It’s been a career’s worth of work to get here for Wiley, the ninth-year coach and Raines alum who was 22 years old the last time the Vikings won a title.

“This moment, this moment,” Wiley said. “I’ll remember this moment the most.”

It took a dynamic effort from the defense and fourth-quarter comeback for the Vikings, authored by senior quarterback Ivory Durham IV, to put an end to one of the most dubious streaks in area history.

Down 10-6 in the final quarter after dominating most of the game, Durham marched Raines 82 yards down the field in style, with no plays bigger than his three conversions on third down.

The first was a 39-yard, zig-zagging run from his own end zone. The next, a 33-yard completion on third-and-13 to Raynell Killian that went down to the 8. And the capper, an 8-yard strike on third-and-goal to Kamaree Noble that put the Vikings in front 13-10 with 5:41 to play.

“I told them in the huddle, ‘Calm down, smile, relax,’” said Durham, who passed for 129 yards and a score. “This is our moment. The whole community was behind us this season.”

Down 13-10, Cocoa made one final push at a comeback, scratching out a fourth-and-13 conversion with 2 minutes, 40 seconds to play. It had an interception by Raines overturned by penalty — one of 19 of the Vikings’ flags for 191 yards — and moved well into Raines territory.

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But the Tigers kept running into the same problems all game — that nasty Vikings defense. It had a second-and-5 at the Raines 34, then got knocked around the final three plays. Roderick Billingslea crushed Willie Gaines after a yard. Javon Bonsell smothered another Gaines carry. And Diop Kee and Deante Bush erased Javian Hawkins’ rush on fourth-and-3.

With 42 seconds to play, the celebration was on, felt from downtown Orlando to back on Moncrief Road.

“We’ve waited a long time for this,” Wiley said. “That’s a heck of a team. A heck of a team.”

In between Raines’ title in 1997 and Thursday night, there had been nothing but heartbreak in December for Duval County public schools, and, public schools in general from across the area. Since Raines’ win on Dec. 20, 1997, only twice had Duval public schools played for a championship — First Coast in 2011 and Raines in 2015. The Vikings lost by 20 in that game to Booker T. Washington.

But this season was different from the outset.

Wiley, who spoke openly all season about this team’s ability to bring home a championship, was dead on. With longtime district rival Bolles moving up in classification, the road was wide-open for Raines to drive through, and they did week by week. Wiley and the Vikings knew it and spoke with certainty that a championship could be theirs if they played to what they were capable of.

The Vikings ended their season on a 13-game winning streak and denied Cocoa (11-2) a shot at back-to-back championships with a staggering defensive performance.

While Raines’ offense entered on a blistering pace — it had scored 35 points or more in 10 consecutive games — defense was what lifted the Vikings.

“It was a dogfight, we let them off the hook and we had to get a stop,” said Spivey, who had 10 tackles. “We knew we had to step up.”

Raines erased Cocoa’s bread and butter, the ground game, with a show of force at the line of scrimmage. Spivey, Deante Bush and Janorris Robertson ate up most of the Tigers ground game, erasing the inside running lanes and clogging up lanes outside of the tackle box. Anything Cocoa tried outside, Raines linebackers and defensive backs came up and snuffed it out.

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The Tigers, with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Louisville-bound Javian Hawkins and Willie Gaines, couldn’t move the ball with any consistency. Cocoa went to the pass much more often than normal — it had one pass attempt in the title game over Bolles last year — throwing it 13 times against the Vikings to try and generate any kind of offense.

But it was Cocoa’s defense wound up flipping the game late.

Raines went backward from its own 48 all the way back to its own 9 after penalties and an intentional grounding call. The punt left Cocoa a short field to work with and Gaines ripped off a 33-yard run down to the Raines 7. He scored three plays later for a 10-6 Cocoa lead with 9:06 to go.

Until Gaines’ run, the Tigers, with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Louisville-bound Javian Hawkins and Gaines, were averaging 1.1 yards per carry. Cocoa rushed for just 91 yards.

With Raines’ backs against the wall, Durham authored the signature drive 20 years in the making. His 39-yard run was more like 50 because he was pushed so far back out of the pocket. By the time Durham ran out of bounds — and Raines took a penalty at the end — the Vikings had flipped the field and clearly shifted the momentum.

The run was a crusher, but his 33-yard throw to Killian was the backbreaker. And when he called Noble’s number on a quick third-and-goal throw from the 8, Noble thought it was trouble.

Gaines closed in a flash, but missed getting the ball by a fingernail.

“I thought he hit it. I really did,” Noble said. “Thankfully, he didn’t. I don’t even have words now. We just made history.”

Brandon Marshall (17 carries, 139 yards) had Raines’ only other score, a 72-yard run near the end of the first quarter. The point-after failed, but Raines’ lead stood until the fourth quarter.