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Gateway challenges Kowboys in 8A-7

Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 4:56 am

Phillip Bangura is Gateway’s leading rusher. Photo/Rob Herbert

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor
The two hottest teams in Osceola County square off today for first place in 8A District 7.
Osceola (5-0, 1-0) hosts Gateway (4-2, 2-0) at 7:30 p.m. in renewal of one of the longest-running rivalries in Osceola County.
The Kowboys won their fifth straight Friday by dumping Tampa Jesuit, 35-0. Osceola forced five turnovers and won by a running clock.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Osceola Coach Doug Nichols said.
Especially after Jesuit (2-3) reached the Class 5A regional finals the past two seasons. Nichols figured Friday’s game would be a hard-fought scrap to the finish.
But, the offense made enough big plays to take the lead and the Kowboys defense was dominating, yielding just 81 total yards.
Gateway has been idle since a dominating 24-0 win at Haines City Oct. 3. That was Gateway’s second district game over a four-game span that also saw the Panthers beat Lakeland Jenkins, 19-13, on Sept. 29.
“We are getting a little healthier, definitely better than what we were a few weeks ago,” Panthers Coach Marlin Roberts said.
Osceola took advantage of a pair of Jesuit mistakes in the opening minutes of last week’s game. Linebacker Connor Parker recovered Jesuit’s first fumble at the Tigers 33. Two plays later, OHS quarterback Braxton Jones zipped through the Jesuit defense for a 27-yard score and a 7-0 lead just 58 seconds in.
Twenty-seven was the lucky number in the first period for OHS. That’s how far Malcolm Davidson ran for Osceola’s second touchdown a little over four minutes later. His score followed another Tigers mistake, a fumbled punt attempt, at Jesuit’s 31. Esteban Morales booted the PAT to make it 14-0.
Gateway has had little luck against OHS through the years. It has been nearly 30 years since the Panthers’ only win on the field against the Kowboys in 1988. They also collected a forfeit win during the 1990s.
The schools have not met every year because they were often in different districts after Gateway’s inception in 1985.
Coach Roberts said that winning at OHS is always a formidable task, but his team is looking forward to the challenge.
“Those guys have a lot of talent and they’ve been good for a long time. We have to go in there and stick to our plan,” he said.