By STEVE JACKSON
East Bay senior placekicker Braxton Maenza booted three perfect PATs, which spelled the difference in last week’s 21-19 Indians’ win over the Riverview Sharks. Meanwhile, Sumner remains the only other undefeated South Shore squad after nudging Gaither 31-27. Playing victorious were the Spoto Spartans, claiming their first win of the season by shutting out King High 14-0. The South Shore’s other football squad, the Lennard Longhorns, could not hang with them.
This week, East Bay Head Coach Mike Gottman takes his unbeaten Indian squad to Tampa as Friday favorites. The 2-2 Jefferson High Dragons are awaiting the 3-0 Indians. While East Bay prevailed in the unbeaten clash with Riverview, Jefferson dropped a 14-0 confrontation with Hillsborough High. Jefferson features a strong ground game with senior running back Nashaun Pryor toting the pigskin.
The Indians from Big Bend Road are expected to rely again on a vaunted rushing attack, based on the legs of quarterback senior Nathan Carter. The big quarterback rambled for a TD on 101 yards with 19 carries versus Riverview, which slipped to 3-1 last week. Indians’ running back junior Jaelin Sneed shares the rushing responsibilities with Carter. Sneed bulled his way for 82 yards on 14 totes against Riverview. Other EB running threats are Armando Becceril and Vincent Ketchup. The sophomore Becceril tallied a touchdown on five carries for 54 yards in the narrow win over Riverview. The senior Ketchup added 26 yards on three carries. QB Carter, who also shows versatility by playing a tough linebacker on defense, exhibits further versatility by throwing the occasional pass. In the battle with Riverview, Carter hit four of six aerials for 54 yards. Favorite target continues to be senior Aiden Showers, who grabbed three for 43 yards against Riverview.
Defensively, East Bay tallied a big TD in the waning moments of the first half. Indians soph Deanthony Caldwell stole Riverview QB Aaron Turner’s pass attempt and converted it into a 30-yard pick-6. The Maenza PAT pushed the EB lead out to 14-6 at the halftime intermission.
Riverview continued to play tough in the second half despite another EB score to make it 21-6. The Sharks threatened a comeback behind the running of junior QB Turner, junior running back Nico Shoats and senior Harry Hensley, all compiling a TD run. Turner’s rush stats of 66 yards on nine carries, Shoats 45 yards on 12 carries and Hensley picking up 55 rush yards on six carries could not make up for the missed PATs, however, as the Sharks tumbled from the unbeaten.
Last week was another lopsided loss for Lennard. The 0-4 Longhorns were overwhelmed by Steinbrenner 52-7. The visiting Warriors from Lutz jumped out to a 38-0 half and cruised to its 2-2 mark for the season. Lennard now faces a bigger challenge in the 3-1 Durant Cougars, a few miles to the east of Ruskin but miles ahead in talent this season.
Former Horns starting quarterback Tyler Russell once again saw only very limited action, due to an ankle injury. Back-up QB Liam McDowell managed to hit seven of 14 passes for 56 yards and the lone Lennard TD to junior receiver Braylon Smith in the final stanza. Junior William Ahlgren added the PAT boot. Draiden Neridige, a Lennard senior running back, ground out 55 yards on 12 attempts to lead the modest Horns rushing game versus an overwhelming performance from the victorious visitors on offense and defense. The Longhorns have only tallied 34 points in their four losses, while giving up 165.
Spoto, along with Riverview, has this week off on the schedule. But the Spartans remain in a celebratory mood in the face of another tough foe on the schedule, a trip to East Bay Sept. 30. Spoto Coach Keith Chattin and Spartan fans received another outstanding performance from Z’orey Cotton and Corrie Ponder offensively. A trio of seniors—Takoi Brown, Jabari Judge, Justin Baker—along with soph Christopher Harris on defense—held King High scoreless and winless.
Spoto soph Cotton continues to sparkle as the slender, swift QB reeled off a 77-yard TD scamper to compile a season-high rushing 115 yards on nine forays. Cotton hit paydirt with both Spartan TDs. Senior Yuriah Watson converted both PATs. Senior running back Corri Ponder picked up 83 yards on 16 rushes as Spoto dominated both sides of the ball.
While Spoto is relishing its first win, the 3-1 Riverview Sharks are also off this Friday night, but are staring a tough schedule finish. Starting Sept. 30 the Sharks face 2-1 Newsome, 3-0 Alonso and 4-0 Sumner in back-to-back-to-back monster home games, prior to hitting the road Oct. 21 against Strawberry Crest, Durant and Steinbrenner, all formidable foes.