By Mitch Traphagen
RIVERVIEW - What happens when two evenly matched teams from a strong rivalry meet on the playing field?
As it always happens, only one team can walk away the winner. On Friday night at J. Vince Thompson Stadium in Riverview, the East Bay High School Indians walked away the winner with a 17-14 win over the Sharks.
Early in the first quarter, the Sharks fumbled deep in their own territory which set up an East Bay field goal. From that point on, the Indians would not give up their lead.
That is not to say, however, that the game wasn’t close. In the second quarter, a costly East Bay penalty on fourth down kept a Riverview drive alive that ended in a five yard touchdown by Cecil Coltrane. The half ended with the Indians leading 10-7.
In the second half, East Bay almost sealed their lead with an unusual play that momentarily had both teams celebrating.
A Brandon Zachery (QB) pass to Matt McNabb was tipped by Riverview, grabbed by McNabb and fumbled just inches from the goal line. Riverview recovered the fumble in the end zone. Two officials signalled a touchdown which was later called back - the play was ruled a touchback and it was Riverview’s ball.
After a Billy McPhaul touchdown for the Indians, the Sharks roared back into the game with a 42 yard touchdown pass to Cecil Coltrane.
Late in the fourth quarter with East Bay leading 17-14, Riverview tried their second on-side kick of the game. The Sharks recovered and appeared ready to march towards the end zone.
The East Bay defense, however, had other plans. With seconds to play the Sharks were forced into a field goal attempt which went wide.
"We’re back, we’re back in it," said East Bay head coach Brian Thornton referring to the district standings. "I thought our defense played outstanding. I don’t know how many yards they had but it wasn’t their usual 400."
Although the defense played a big role in stopping the much vaunted Sharks running game, the Indian’s offense consistently moved the ball well.
"It was a pretty clean game, we’re always working on reducing turnovers," Thornton continued. "We’re trying to stay away from penalties and hang on to the football. We’ve only got one returning starter in the backfield. I’ve said all along that our team would get better as the year went on."
As is also the case with two well matched teams in a strong rivalry, the outcome could be different on any given day. "It is a great rivalry, but it’s clean," said Sharks head coach Dan O’Regan. "It’s hard hitting, it’s fun. I was hoping for an overtime situation but it didn’t work out that way. They’ve got a tough defense."
At the end of the game, the Cherry’s Cup was presented to the Indians for the second year in a row. The Cup is sponsored by Cherry’s Restaurant in Summerfield. A permanent trophy is held by the winner of the game each year. Additionally, Cherry’s donated $250 to each school’s athletic programs.
On Friday, the 3-2 Indians will play host to 2-3 Bloomingdale High School in Gibsonton. Last week Bloomingdale won at home over Plant City.
The Sharks, 3-2, will travel to Lakeland to take on the 3-2 Dreadnaughts.
After losing to East Bay two weeks ago, the Dreadnaughts fell to Jenkins High School last week before an estimated crowd of 10,000.
Mitch Traphagen Photos
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