By TYSON HIMES
EMPORIUM - Sheffield is cementing a place in the District 9 Class AA playoffs - for the first time ever.
In a must-win game, Sheffield defeated Cameron County, 28-8, on Friday for its third win in four games and fourth in six and a spot in the D-9 playoffs since, well, since forever.
Kalil Slaughter started things off well for Sheffield with a first-down carry on fourth-and-six on Sheffield's first possession, but a fumble gave it back.
Midway through the first quarter, Kwante Johnson took a punt return back to Cameron County's 15-yard line. That set up Nick Bonavita's first touchdown, an 11-yard run to give Sheffield a 6-0 lead. George Fitch's two-point run put Sheffield up by eight points.
Bonavita sparked a defense that has been playing lights out of late - including three shutouts on the season. He had an interception in the first half, but it was called back due to defensive holding.
Cameron County's only score - a four-yard run - came after a Sheffield punt deep in its own territory only went to the Sheffield 25-yard line.
Tied 8-8, Sheffield QB Ike Nearing had a huge 39-yard run but he was penalized for a facemask on a stiff-arm call. Sheffield was physical all game, and that same drive ended with a 22-yard TD pass from Nearing to Bonavita. on a third-down-and-10 play.
Up 15-8 in the second quarter, Shequan Wright recovered the pooch kickoff for the Wolverines. That set up a 16-yard TD pass from Nearing to Nate Charlton.
The defense took over in the second half. The biggest example was Charlton's monster stop on fourth down in the fourth quarter with Cameron County trying to score from two yards out.
Then, with Sheffield getting the ball back on downs, Bonavita took a third-down carry 99 yards for the final score.
Sheffield is 4-5 overall.
"We've treated the last two weeks as playoff games, really," said Sheffield coach Bryan Gould, who is getting used to Gatorade baths. "We're going to go (to the playoffs) because we've proven ourselves against some of the tougher teams (the league).
"We really showed our true character on that goal-line stand," he said. "They were fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line and we stuffed them. And it was third-and-ten from our two-yard line (and Bonavita broke one)."
Bonavita finished with 185 yards rushing on 17 carries with two touchdowns rushing and one receiving.
Sheffield-Cameron Co. Stats
S-Nick Bonavita 11 run, George Fitch 2-pt. run, 4:23
C-Nick Stuckey 4 run, Tucker Britton 2-pt. run, 6:18
S-Bonavita 22 pass from Ike Nearing, Fitch kick, 3:00
S-Nate Charlton 16 pass from Nearing, kick fails, 2:17
S-Bonavita 99 run, Fitch kick, 10:56
RUSHING-S-Bonavita 17-185, 2 TD; Nearing 8-46; Fitch 6-18; Kalil Slaughter 5-9; Evan Jamison 1-(-4). C-Stuckey 8-26, 1 TD; Tony Olivett 6-23; Britton 3-17; Chance Goodrow 2-8; Matt Fragale 1-3; Eric Spehalski 2-0; Zach Austin 9-(-9).
PASSING-S-Nearing 3-11, 56 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. C-Austin 2-2, 33 yards; Britton 1-6, 32 yards; Spehalski 0-1, 0 yards.
RECEIVING-S-Charlton 2-34, 1 TD; Bonavita 1-22, 1 TD. C-Austin 1-32; Cody Beer 1-30; Olivett 1-3.