GIBSONTON — East Bay coach Frank LaRosa said his team is lucky to have gone 1-1 in its two games this week. The Indians’ offense hasn’t been helping itself out, turning the ball over 11 times in a loss Monday to Alonso and a 14-6 win against Spoto on Friday night.
“I’m just glad this week is over,” LaRosa said. “Because 11 fumbles in five days is pretty rough and somehow we walk out of the week 1-1.”
Fortunately, while the offense has some issues, the defense is on fire, including an 11-sack effort in the win against the Spartans. Junior Marcus Ford led the way with 4.5 sacks, while junior Eric Latortue had four and Kam Daniels added two sacks for the Indians.
“Our defense has played outstanding all year,” LaRosa said. “In four games we haven’t allowed 200 yards of offense yet. I don’t know how much longer we can keep that up, but it’s been outstanding so far.”
Injuries have played a big part in the Indians’ offensive issues, as East Bay (3-1) was forced to go to its third-string quarterback late against Spoto. LaRosa said hopefully his offense will get back into rhythm with a trip to Wharton this week, before opening district play against Plant City on Oct. 4.
Crusaders clicking up front
The main concern for Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory heading into this season was his offensive line.
Yes, the Crusaders had left tackle Corey Martinez, one of the nation’s hottest recruits, but outside of him the group was relatively young and/or inexperienced.
In the first couple of games, TC struggled a bit with some assignments, and then, much to Gregory’s delight, things started clicking.
On Friday, in a key 39-13 win against Class 3A-District 4 rival Fort Meade, the Crusaders’ offensive line never looked better.
“I’m very encouraged because those guys have made great improvements,” Gregory said. “I’m proud of that whole group.”
The players — Martinez, left guard Sonel Ramponneau, center David Gonzalez, right guard Michael Espinola and right tackle Tyler Meany — have also spent time on the defensive front, and have benefited from a bit of platooning with defensive linemen Kevin Guida, Michael Hamilton and Kyle McCullin.
“We’ve experimented with moving guys to both sides of the ball in certain situations,” Gregory said. “So far it’s worked pretty well.”
Manuel key in Blake D-Line
Blake has two straight decisive wins as the Yellow Jackets topped Leto (54-0) and Lennard (46-6), and there are a number of things going right for Darryl Gordon’s offense. However, it is the defense that has really started to turn the corner, according to Gordon, and that starts at the line and his sophomore end Shavar Manuel.
“Shavar has been doing great things containing the edge and getting to the quarterback,” Gordon said. “He brings everything physically. You’re talking about 6-4, 6-5, 245 pounds. Oh my gosh, he’s a man-child and just a sophomore.”
Manuel is averaging 1.5 sacks a game and Gordon said he has room to grow along with his young Blake teammates.
“You know we aren’t quite there yet and we still have a ways to go,” Gordon said. “But I’m seeing it every day, every practice, we’re getting better and better.”
Record-breaking night for Panthers trio
Plant (3-0-1) pulled away from a Bloomingdale team in the second half of Friday’s 50-40 win, and a lot of the credit goes to record-breaking performances from a trio of Panthers playmakers. Panthers coach Bob Weiner said after film study Saturday, five Panthers records were broken in the win.
Senior quarterback Colby Brown went 33 of 43 for 519 yards and four touchdowns. The 519 yards broke the previous Plant record held by Aaron Murray (409 yards against Jefferson in 2007), while Brown’s 33 completions broke Robert Marve’s record from the 2006 state championship game.
On the end of 14 of those passes was junior wide receiver Jordan Reed, who set school highs in receptions and receiving yards with 240, both breaking marks held by Derek Winter.
Senior Alex “Buda” Jackson also earned a school record (again from Winter) with 326 total yards, collecting 145 rushing, 107 receiving and 74 in kick return yards.
Chris Bryant, Newsome – The junior exploded with rushes of 49, 49 and 54 yards including a pair of TDs in the Wolves’ 38-26 win at Alonso.
Elias Earley, Carrollwood Day – The junior started CDS’ 60-39 win with a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown, before adding 136 yards rushing and three more scores.
Issac Holder, Sickles – The junior passed for 301 yards on 13 completions and three TDs as Sickles stayed undefeated with a 44-17 win against Steinbrenner.
Chris Oladokun, Alonso – It was a tough loss to Newsome, but the sophomore quarterback gave his team a look at what’s to come, completing 14 of 22 for 301 yards and four TDs.
Austin Carswell, Strawberry Crest – With QB Tristan Hyde (knee) unable to go, the junior stepped in and led Crest to a 46-0 win against Brandon with four passing touchdowns and three 2-point conversions.
Staff writers Scott Purks, Nick Williams and correspondent Michael Manganello contributed to this report.