SPRINGDALE — Billy Sparacio refused to make excuses for his Naples (Fla.) First Baptist Academy team following Friday night’s 12-8 loss to Shiloh Christian.
The Lions (1-2) were without leading rusher Christian Rodriguez, who missed the game with a knee sprain. Rodriguez also starts on defense, and he likely was missed more there than on the other side of the ball.
Dylan Cibelli filled the void on offense with 126 yards on 29 carries and scored the Lions’ only touchdown. Cibelli opened the game with 10 straight carries.
“He’s (Rodriguez) a big part of the offense, yes, but I think the kids that played did a great job,” Coach Sparacio said. “Really proud of them, especially in the second half the way they fought hard.”
The Saints were also without one of their top players. Senior WR/S Reed Lowe was lost for the season last week after suffering a knee injury just a few plays into the season opener against Charleston.
Lowe, one of the top returning receivers and a leader on the defense, had season-ending surgery to repair his MCL on Wednesday.
When the Saints broke their team huddle at midfield following the game, in unison they chanted, “Win For Reed.”
First Baptist players, coaches and family members boarded a plane Thursday and made the flight to Arkansas for the game, billed as the Florida vs. Arkansas Showcase.
Sparacio said the trip to The Natural State was a memorable one for his program, now in its sixth season.
“We got to do a lot of neat things,” he said. “It was really, really special. I think our families and players had a great experience.”
The team was flying back to Florida on Saturday morning.
Shiloh Christian 12, Naples (Fla.) First Baptist Academy 8
Shiloh — Goode 28 pass from Reece (kick failed), 4:51
Shiloh — Freeman 70 run (pass fails), 3:15
First — Cibelli 3 run (Dean pass to Chapman), 8:59
Rushing — First Baptist, Cibelli 29-126, Stefan 8-29, Dean 7-5, West 1-0, Chapman 1-(minus 3), Team 1-(minus 23). Shiloh, Freeman 13-166, Smith 11-33, Reece 4-3, Solomon 2-0, Goode 1-0, Olsen 1-(minus 4).
Passing — First Baptist, Dean 5-15-0 41. Shiloh, Reece 8-17-1 116, Olsen 0-0-0 0.
Receiving — First Baptist, Chapman 3-25, Briggs 1-20, Cibelli 1-(minus 4). Shiloh, Goode 4-67, Fulgham 1-21, SMith 1-8, Solomon 1-5, Plunkett 1-5.
Missed Field Goals — None.