CLEARWATER — For the first time since this rivalry game started three years ago, rain did not play a factor.
The clear skies allowed Clearwater and Clearwater Central Catholic to show off their passing games. There were plenty of big plays. The Marauders made the most as they took control midway through the first quarter and cruised to a 38-21 victory.
Here are five takeaways from Wednesday's spring game.
Rory Hicks might be the most underrated quarterback in the area: After transferring from Countryside last season, Hicks became a full-time starter and put up solid numbers, throwing for more than 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns while leading the Marauders to the state semifinals.
This season, he might be even better.
The rising senior was efficient against the Tornadoes, throwing for more than 200 yards and five touchdowns.
"Offensively, we have a lot of weapons that Rory can play with," CCC coach Chris Harvey said. "He does a good job of managing the game. But he can also get better."
Brett Seither will become a big-time target in CCC's passing game: At 6-foot-5, 228 pounds, the rising senior has the prototypical frame to play at the next level. Colleges took notice this spring. Seither now has 17 offers from schools such as Indiana, Iowa State, Maryland and USF.
He does more than look the part. Seither also is a dependable target. On Wednesday, he had seven catches, three for touchdowns.
"Brett is a big kid," Harvey said. "If he keeps his head on and works, he can keep playing for a long time in a lot of different places."
The Marauders will still be strong on defense: Graduation took a toll with CCC losing 21 seniors, nine of whom started on defense. The biggest void will be at linebacker, where the Marauders have to replace a unit that had more than 300 tackles.
But there still is talent.
Defensive lineman Kennedy Roberts is a Division I-A prospect who can create havoc. And CCC still has the Newton brothers —Jerjuan and Jerzahn — who can be used in a variety of ways.
The Marauders registered three sacks and picked off four passes, one each by the Newton brothers in Wednesday's game.
CCC will have a solid offensive line by the end of the season: The biggest concern on offense for the Marauders this offseason was their offensive line. CCC graduated four of its five starters up front. There were some reinforcements who helped fill the holes. Zac Elam, and Collin and Cade Wunsch all transferred from Indian Rocks Christian.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer tackle Jerry Wunsch, who spent nearly a decade coaching the Golden Eagles offensive line, joined his sons and became an assistant with the Marauders.
For the most part, the revamped unit played well, keeping Hicks upright and opening holes in the running game.
Clearwater will improve: Sure, the Tornadoes lost by double digits, but there were some encouraging signs. They drove down the field on their opening possession to take the lead. Keedrik Murray capped off drive by scoring on a short run. The rising junior also had a few other big plays.
Rent Montie, in his first year as a full-time starting quarterback, threw for a touchdown and ran for another.