By STEVE JACKSON
The big news in South Shore high school football last week was 7-1 Sumner’s overwhelmingly whipping previously unbeaten 6-1 Riverview Sharks 40-7 in Sumner.
Other action saw hopeful Lennard High dropping 27-17 to a highly favored East Bay, a team with sights on revenge this Friday night. The Indians are also whiffing the sweet scent of returning to the post-season playoffs again in November.
Winless Spoto High went to Valrico last Friday in hopes of beating the Bloomingdale Bulls but came home with disappointment after losing 35-13. For the Keith Chattin coached Spartans, it was loss number seven with zero wins and only two more chances for a victory before the regular season ends.
This Friday evening offers 6-1 East Bay and Head Coach Mike Gottman an opportunity to pay back 5-2 Berkeley Prep, which is busing to Big Bend Road for the battle versus East Bay. Last year the Indians lost a 14-0 contest to Berkeley Prep in Tampa. This season East Bay has scored 260 points in seven games while yielding 95. That comes out average-wise for East Bay to 37 plus points per game scored and 13.6 points given up each game. Meanwhile Berkeley Prep Buccaneers have scored 191 total points—an average of 27 points per game. On defense, the Bucs have seen opponents score 104 points per game, an average of approximately 15 points a game.
In the 27-17 victory for East Bay over Lennard in Ruskin last week, the Indians utilized their usual balanced attack on offense and on defense. Junior Indian quarterback William Boyd went to the air 13 times and completed six for 97 yards. The EB rushing was handled by two reliable starters. Senior workhorse Jaelin Sneed gained 53 yards rushing on 18 carries and had one TD. The other stalwart runner on offense was junior Anthony Laurent with nine rushes for 55 yards and also one score. Versatile senior Joe Hernandez added 22 rush yards on four totes. On defense, EB was led by ubiquitous senior Miles Thompson who picked off a Lennard aerial for a TD and six. Another senior, Emanuel White, makes his presence known on defense while being aided by juniors Justin Cornish, Deanthony Caldwell and Drayvn Oblak.
Lennard, under its rookie Head Coach KB Belton, once again played a superior opponent and held its own but lost the game to East Bay, which has better overall talent than the Longhorns. Lennard is idle this week but finishes the regular season hosting struggling Spoto, Oct. 27, and visiting Seffner for a Nov. 3 game with powerful 6-1 Armwood High, a solid contender for the playoffs in 3M-D4.
“We practice in order to get better,” commented Lennard Coach Belton, adding that his Horns suffered “too many self-inflicted mistakes against East Bay.
“I see promise in our team,” added Coach Belton. “ We have many inexperienced young players. Our sophomore quarterback, Jacob Mobley, had never played varsity football. Many of our starters and other players have never played varsity until this season. We have already won twice as many games this season (two) than last year (one).
“Our players know what it takes to win,” said the first-year coach at Lennard. “We are building a different Lennard football culture.”
Up the road a few miles from Lennard, it appears that Riverview Sharks Head Coach Tony Rodriquez has changed the football culture at Riverview. But this year’s unbeaten streak to start the season put a target on the Sharks. That target was hit directly with the loss at Sumner last week. Now, the 6-1 Sharks must bounce back this Friday evening against a 4-3 Strawberry Crest team from Dover, FL, at Riverview. A quick comparison shows Strawberry Crest has an outstanding running back in Devin Blunt, who has piled up 118 yards rushing per game and 15 touchdowns. Strawberry Crest Coach Phillip Prior also utilizes the talented Blunt on defense when the going gets tough for the Chargers. Blunt has been in on 17 tackles this season and grabbed two interceptions. The top Riverview running back is senior Dino Shoats, who averages 106 yards rushing per game. Shoats, along with senior QB Aaron Turner, has provided the majority of Riverview’s offense this season.
After a chance at redemption this week, the Sharks have to be ready to handle the visiting powerful 7-1 Durant Cougars Oct. 27. Riverview closes its regular season Nov. 3 versus 2-5 Steinbrenner at Riverview. Then the Sharks will see if the playoffs are next or if they put up their uniforms for the year.