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County teams in spring football games Thursday and Friday

Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Braxton Jones calls signals during an Osceola High scrimmage last week. The Kowboys visit Bishop Moore Friday. Photo/Martin Maddock

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor
Spring football comes to an end today and Friday as six local teams play in games or jamborees.
Today, the St. Cloud Bulldogs host Lake Minneola at 7 p.m. at Gannarelli Field. Liberty travels to Gateway today, also at 7.
Friday, Osceola visits Bishop Moore at 7 p.m. Cypress Creek travels to Harmony at 7, while Celebration will host Oak Ridge (6 p.m.) and Haines City (8 p.m.) for a three-team jamboree. Haines City and Oak Ridge meet at 7 p.m. All matchups at Celebration are for one half.
There will not be live kicking and the JV teams will see action at most of the games.
Poinciana got a head start on the other local teams when it traveled to Indian Rocks Christian last week. The Eagles lost, 34-21, but Coach Ken Knapczyk said that it was a solid performance by his offense.
“It went well. We gave up a couple of cheap scores early and fell behind (14-0, then 28-7 at the half), but we came back in the second half and held them to just two field goals,” the third-year coach said. “We had plenty of opportunities to make some plays, but fell just short.”
Quarterback Kobe Oldfield rushed for more than 150 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also passed for another 150 yards and a TD.
Hunter Knapczyk, the coach’s son, had 12 tackles plus four receptions for 80 yards.
“We had the opportunity to evaluate several new players and we were pleased with their effort and performance,” he said. “The good thing is, it’s all correctable.”
St. Cloud Coach Bryan Smart said that his team would play today’s football game with heavy hearts after the school lost long-time basketball/cross country coach Tim McMullen to a fatal heart attack last week.
“It was one of the worst days of my life. He was an amazing person, coach and mentor,” Smart said.
The Bulldogs could be one of the strongest teams in the county next season, returning much of an offense that barely missed the regional playoffs last season, led by quarterback Colt Smith and outstanding receivers and running backs Johnny Fritz, Seth Johnson and Charles Robinson. The defense should be solid with Matt Roberson and Dezmond Pierce Lacy leading the way.
“Our offense has been clicking this spring. We are excited to see how far we have come,” Smart said. “Lake Minneola has quite a few athletes and we will have to be on top of our game to stop them.”
Gateway Coach Marlin Roberts will use today’s jamboree to search for running backs and receivers to replace a strong group that graduated or transferred.
“We’re pretty strong in the front seven, but now we have to find some skill people,” Roberts said. “Usually, it’s the other way around.”
Quarterback Maurice Adams returns.
“He did a nice job for us last year. We just have to find some people to go with him,” Roberts said.
Patrick Kelly, Gateway’s leading rusher last season, transferred to Osceola as did Jaleal Maloney.
Liberty debuts under Coach Doug Gabriel, one of three new coaches patrolling the sidelines since last season.
The others are Harmony’s Don Simon and Celebration’s Jay Sobke.
Sobke, who was Harmony’s interim head coach for six games last season, said that he is inheriting a good group of seniors who will help the team transition.
“We have a few special players, like LJ Howard and Martin Alarcon, who are solid interior linemen. Chris Kelly is developing into a key player who is going to contribute on both sides of the ball as quarterback and safety,” Sobke said.
Austin Martins (S), Peter Garcia (DL/LB), Blain Woodrow (DL/LB), Tim Cantwell (WR/QB) and Fletcher Trowsdale (K) are other seniors who are team leaders, Sobke said.
Underclassmen who have stood out this spring include sophomore running back Romeo Medina, junior linebacker Bama Sutton and sophomore defensive linemen Juju Carrero and Jojo Anderson.
“All these players have great work ethics and are all in with the team culture that we are establishing at Celebration,” Sobke said.
Osceola Coach Doug Nichols said that last week’s Blue and Gold scrimmage went well as his team prepared for Bishop Moore.
“We were able to get a snap from center without fumbling it, and nobody got hurt,” he said.