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Horns host Gateway Friday; PHS on road; Storm in home opener; Liberty off

Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Harmony Coach Don Simon talks to the Longhorns after the spring game. The team opened the season with a win over Space Coast last week. Photo/Rick Pedone

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor
So far, so good for Harmony’s Longhorns.
Harmony (1-0) overcame a wet field and a 14-5 halftime deficit and won its season opener at Space Coast, 18-14, Friday.
Coach Don Simon appreciates the win, but he hopes that his team won’t wait quite so long to make things happen when it hosts Gateway Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We finally decided to play with about three or four minutes left,” he said.
The Longhorns defense turned things around when linebacker Roland Hayes returned an interception about 20 yards for a touchdown to pull the Longhorns close at 14-12 in the fourth quarter.
Then, after the defense held on the next series, the Longhorns offense took charge and drove for the winning score on quarterback Nate Herstich’s 4-yard run for the winning TD.
Harmony’s defense came up with another turnover to put the game away.
Simon, in his first season as the Longhorns coach, said that severe weather delayed the start of the game and that the wet field does not benefit the Longhorns’ fast-paced offense.
“The wet weather does not help our offense, but those are things that we have to overcome,” Simon said. “I liked the way that we took over the game at the end. That was the important part. It was good to see the character of the kids come out the way it did when it mattered.”
Sophomore Reece Allison put the Longhorns on the scoreboard with a 32-yard field goal in the first half, and the defense came up with a safety in the second quarter.
Simon said that even though the offense was inconsistent for much of the game, he liked the production of the running game.
“We averaged about six and a half yards a carry,” he said. “Our offensive line has been playing very well. Every one of them has graded out 75 percent or better, and we consider 70 percent good.”
Gateway (0-1) brings a formidable challenge to Longhorns field on Friday, said Simon.
“The thing about them is that they are physical, and they have some tremendous athletes,” he said. “They are about 70-30 run. They are going to run a lot of different formations and come after you.”
Simon is impressed with Gateway’s highly recruited defensive lineman, Dennis Briggs. Briggs also played tight end during the Panthers’ 14-3 loss to Boone last week.
“He’s a very impressive player. He has to be accounted for,” Simon said.
The Longhorns have their open date next week.

Poinciana 28, Whittier Christian 20

Poinciana is 1-0, and that is sweet music to the ears of Eagles football fans.
“The campus is already getting excited about the team. It’s been great,” said Poinciana Coach Ken Knapczyk.
The Eagles won their regular season opener last week, 28-20, over Whittier Christian of La Habra, Calif., at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Knapczyk was excited about an offense that totaled 463 yards of production, 356 of that on the ground.
Running back Omar Elisis was the offensive MVP with 15 carries for 239 yards and one touchdown. Na’drel Gorden earned defensive MVP honors for the Eagles.
Moises Occulis, John Torres and Kristian Robles all played key roles in the victory, said Knapczyk, and kicker Connor Beeken executed well. Hunter Knapczyk, playing linebacker, was a key to the Eagles pass defense by shutting down Whittier’s top receiver.
Even more impressive is the fact that the Eagles are playing without their starting quarterback, Kobe Oldfield, who had to transfer out of state before the season began.
In his place, T.J. Brooks started his first varsity regular season game and came through, hitting 7-of-12 passes for 74 yards. He also ran for 49 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Hunter Knapczyk hit both of his passes for 33 yards.
Knapczyk said it was an outstanding effort by his players, who had only three weeks to adjust to Oldfield’s loss.
“That was three years of work when we lost Kobe. He was right at the point where he was doing a lot of good things and he was going to be very good this season,” Coach Knapczyk said. “But, TJ stepped in and did a real good job for us. We’ve still got a lot of rough edges to work through, but I’m excited about the way we played.”
Jamal Calmont gained 56 yards on seven carries for Poinciana, which equaled its win total for all of last season. The team also win its Kickoff Classic against Clearwater Academy two weeks ago.
Next up for the Eagles is a trip to Mulberry on Friday at 7 p.m. The Panthers (0-1) lost their season opener last week at Lakeland Jenkins, 45-21.
The Eagles travel to Liberty for their rivalry game Sept. 8.

Sarasota 36, Celebration 0

Celebration welcomes Lakeland Christian for its regular season football opener Friday at 7 p.m. at Bushey Stadium.
The Storm (0-1) lost their season opener at Sarasota, 36-0, last week in a game that was called after one half.
Although it was a disappointing result for the team, first-year Coach Jay Sobke is encouraged by the progress he sees from his players.
“We continue to show improvement no matter what the score may say,” he said. “Our kids are excited about the opportunity to have fun, get better and challenge themselves.”
Quarterback Tim Cantwell threw for 69 yards, including a 43-yard completion to Lucas DeMarino. The Storm were stymied on the ground, though, gaining only six yards.
Austin Martins and Peter Garcia led the defense with eight tackles apiece.
Lakeland Christian is traditionally a state contender in Class 3A.
“Lakeland Christian is a talented, well-coached team that is going to be a challenge this week,” said Sobke. “However, our players are up to the task and ready to get better this week.”


South Lake 34, Liberty 7

The offense didn’t seem to be the problem for Liberty during its 34-7 season-opening loss at South Lake last week.
The Chargers amassed 421 yards of total offense and quarterback Jalen Ray threw for 273 yards and a touchdown.
But, turnovers were a big problem for Liberty – there were four of them, enough to derail even a high-powered attack.
The Chargers (0-1) have two weeks to sort out their problems. Their week 2 game, originally scheduled against Eagle Lake Discovery, was canceled. Instead, the Chargers will play at Melbourne Central Catholic on Oct. 6.
Liberty’s next game will be Sept. 8 when it hosts Poinciana for the 11th “Battle of the Boulevard.”
Liberty has not lost to Poinciana during the previous 10 meetings.
Ray connected on 13-of-31 throws last week and found Kenton Thelsume for a 33-yard TD play.
Timon Naules led the Chargers with 64 yards on four receptions.
On defense, Joe Halstead had 13 tackles and Arthur Bentley added nine. LaRandy Swiny picked off a pass for the Chargers.