LARGO — The offense was relentless and merciless Friday night, but that has been the case a lot recently.
Largo is scoring points in bunches and getting contributions from everyone. Add in a defense that has been smothering, as well as a special teams unit capable of big plays, and you have a four-game win streak from a team that no longer resembles the bunch that started the season with a loss to St. Petersburg.
The rampaging Packers overwhelmed Countryside 35-0 in a game that had running clock throughout the second half.
"That’s probably the most complete half of football we’ve played all year, but we can still get better," Largo coach Marcus Paschal said. "Things are starting to jell."
Since losing in a mistake-filled opener to the Green Devils, the Packers have recovered quite nicely. Largo (4-1, 1-0) handed East Lake its first loss, then routed Palm Harbor University and Dixie Hollins.
The turnaround started in second half against the Eagles. The Packers trailed 13-0, prompting the normally laid-back Paschal to give a fiery halftime speech to his players.
Since that half, Largo has been unstoppable, outscoring foes by a combined 106-13.
Friday night’s game was supposed to be a test. The Cougars (3-1, 1-0) were undefeated and featured a high-scoring offense.
But all the highlights belonged to the Packers.
It started with the opening kickoff. Khaishef Edwards bobbled it for a moment, ran through a crease and raced past defenders on a 99-yard return for a touchdown for a 7-0 lead.
On the Packers’ next possession, running back Jayion McCluster took a direct snap and plunged 1 yard for another score to make it 14-0.
Everybody was involved in the offense, even lineman. Raymond Collins, a Division 1-A prospect at tackle, switched jerseys on the sideline, from 59 to 34, to line up as a tight end.
On the next play, he caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Keon Gulley to put Largo ahead 21-0 in the second quarter.
"I played tight end all my life before becoming a lineman," Collins said. "It was nice because it was the first touchdown catch I’ve had in high school. I didn’t really beg to get the ball, but I did let them know they can come to me with a pass whenever they needed it."
The scoring continued. Manny Higgins took a handfoff on a jet sweep and sprinted 51 yards for a touchdown. Minutes later, Gulley threw his second touchdown of the night, a 48-yarder to Edwards for a 35-0 halftime lead.
And it could have been worse. The Packers had two punt returns for touchdowns called back on penalties, and Gulley just missed connecting with Edwards on a long scoring pass with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.