First Baptist Academy of Naples celebrated its four-year journey of becoming a solid football team on Friday night, raising the Class 2A-District 6 Trophy.
The Lions completed an undefeated regular season at 10-0, downing Marco Island Academy, 61-0, which was finishing its first season.
FBA Administrator Tom Rider hugged coach Billie Sparacio as they shared the trophy with the team after the game.
"I am very happy and proud of our kids," Sparacio said. "It was a lot of hard work and perseverance."
The Lions begin the playoffs, hosting Largo-Indian Rocks Christian School at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Sparacio wants the journey to continue beyond the first playoff game..
"We have more to do," he said. "Now we focus on what's to come, we want to keep playing."
The happy ending concluded FBA's Senior Night. When the 13 senior players were introduced the announcer told how many years each player had been playing varsity football. It totaled 45 years.
The 25 Manta Rays completed their first season.
Coach Andy Delgado was upbeat after the game. "We knew we had to pay our dues," he said. "FBA was once in our position. We are already drawing interest by other athletes who most likely will join the team next year."
FBA's experience showed quickly as it scored in the first 42 seconds.
The Academy opened the game boldly, trying an onside kick which the Lions fell on at the Academy 45. A 15-yard penalty against the Academy, put the ball on the Academy 40. A 15-yard run by Chris Dorrill and a 25-yard hookup between quarterback Jonah Beultel and Alex Diaz accounted for the score. The extra point made it 7-0.
Before the quarter was finished FBA scored four more times to take a 35-0 lead. In the second quarter FBA scored three times.
After reserve Dylan Cibelli scored from 15 yards out to make it 48-0, Academy's Delgado asked for a running clock at 9:05 in the second quarter.