Tampa Catholic coach Bob Henriquez said last week's 27-7 loss to Clearwater Central Catholic was a game the Crusaders let slip away with a few missed assignments, a blown coverage and two turnovers on their side of the field.
"We felt after watching the film that the difference in the CCC game was not necessarily that great between the two teams talent-wise," Henriquez said. "We just felt we made some key mistakes."
Friday night against Northeast was starting to have a similar feel to it as the Crusaders found themselves behind 21-7 late in the second quarter. Then a key 64-yard touchdown completion from Kyle Ploucher to Zach Benjamin moved momentum back to their side. Tampa Catholic went on to win, 37-28.
"The first half we didn't tackle well and we weren't playing physical football," Henriquez said. "We had an interesting halftime and I think our guys responded."
The Crusaders responded well by outscoring Northeast 23-7 in the second half — even after falling behind again 28-27 in the third quarter. The Crusaders offense got a solid performance from Ploucher, their junior quarterback who had four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and junior wide receiver Justin Motlow, who had four catches for 117 yards, a touchdown, played defense and punted for Tampa Catholic.
Spoto looking to get whole again
A single injury can change the course of a team's season in an instant. Spoto (2-4) has certainly seen that as the team suffered eerily similar injuries to two of its senior captains and the team started searching for answers. Running back Eric Moate, who led the Spartans with 1,200 yards in 2011, fractured his foot in three spots in Spoto's season-opening loss to Riverview, and outside linebacker Julius Robinson fractured a bone in his foot against Gibbs on Sept. 14.
"After Eric and Julius got hurt, two of my senior mainstays, we all of a sudden became a very young football team," Spoto coach Dale Caparaso said. "We're starting eight sophomores, but as the year progressed those sophomores are growing up and getting better and better."
Friday, Spoto got Robinson back and the defense looked solid as the Spartans held Blake scoreless after Desmond Gaines opened the game with an 81-yard kickoff return for a Yellow Jackets touchdown. Spoto went on to win 21-6. The Spartans took the lead after an Andrew Henry rushing touchdown in the second half with Kevin Hobley connecting with Brian Barr for two passing touchdowns.
Caparaso said there is good news on Moate as well, as he expects the tailback to return to practice this week. Moate's return will probably be too late in the week to have him ready for Robinson on Thursday, but Caparaso said he hopes to have his senior captain back for the Spartans' final three games.
"You lose a guy like Eric Moate, you lose like 85 percent of your offense," Caparaso said. "Getting him back is getting back the best running back in the county."
With Sickles' upset win over Hillsborough on Friday and the resurgence of Jefferson's season after the Dragons knocked off King, it's probably not premature to talk about tiebreaker scenarios for Class 6A-District 8 and other leagues.
According to the FHSAA manual, if three or more schools are tied for either first place or second place in the final district standings and the tie cannot be broken based on the results of regular season competition, then a district tiebreaker shall be played to determine the district champion and/or district runner-up.
District tiebreakers will be played Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at the school whose team is seeded No. 1. Teams play one full quarter against their bracketed opponents. Each team will have two timeouts per quarter. If the game is still tied after one quarter the 10-Yard Line Overtime Tiebreaker Plan as printed in the NFHS Rules Book will be used to break the tie.
Teams will be seeded on the basis of their overall win-loss percentage through all games played by Nov. 4. The team with the best overall win-loss percentage will be seeded No. 1, etc. If two or more of the teams have identical overall win-loss percentages, the results of their head-to-head competition during the regular season will be used to break the tie. If the tie cannot be resolved by the results of head-to-head competition, a random draw will be used to break the tie.
By the Numbers
276: Jefferson wide receiver Jonathan Moore had eight catches for 276 yards and four touchdowns in the Dragons' 41-8 win against King.
12: Robinson linebacker Demetrius Page hauled in a floater Friday and returned the interception 15 yards for the Knights' 12th defensive touchdown of the season. Page is the eighth Robinson player to record a touchdown on defense.
309: Strawberry Crest sophomore quarterback Tristan Hyde eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark for the third time in a loss this season as the Chargers fell 35-18 to Armwood.