County football roundup: St. Cloud, Liberty win rivalry games, Tohopekaliga victorious

The St. Cloud Bulldogs snapped a two-game losing streak to Harmony in the Soldier City Classic; while Liberty High School maintained its dominance over Poinciana in the Battle of the Boulevards on Friday night.  

In other county action, second-year school Tohopekaliga picked up its fifth win of the season, defeating Celebration; while Gateway went down to defeat to a talented Auburndale club.

The 2019 regular season concludes this week with seven games involving county teams. St. Cloud (6-3) travels to Victory Christian Academy, Harmony (2-7) hosts Lake Brantley, Gateway (0-9) plays at Orlando Olympia, Tohopekaliga (5-4) plays at home against Haines City, Celebration (3-6) hosts Liberty (1-8) and Poinciana (3-6) plays at Cocoa Beach.

 Following last week’s 35-17 District clinching win over Lake Nona, the Kowboys (8-1) regular season is completed.

ST. CLOUD 48, HARMONY 7

The Bulldogs claimed the coveted “Brass Bugle” for the first time in three seasons with an emphatic 48-7 win over Harmony in the 15th annual Soldier City Classic.  The Bulldogs grabbed a 14-0 lead at halftime before going on a 20-0 run in the third quarter to put the game away.

“We got off to a slow start but we definitely picked it up in the second half,” St. Cloud Head Coach Bryan Smart said. “It was a great win because of the rivalry and everything but we still have playoff aspirations. I told our players that to have any chance at the post-season, we needed to win our last two games and we can’t win both unless we won the first against Harmony.”

For the game, the Bulldogs piled up more than 600 yards of total offense. Garhett King completed 17 of 25 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. King also rushed for two scores to account for five touchdowns.

Junior Craig Chapman rushed for 122 yards and a score on just seven carries. Koron Perrin had an explosive night, rushing 10 times for 66 yards and adding 117 yards on five receptions. Romeo Medina had seven receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns — including a 70-yard catch and run for touchdown by reserve quarterback Cameron Priester.

QB Keaghan Black accounted for the Longhorns touchdown on a 2-yard scoring pass to Kenneth Torres in the fourth quarter.

The win cut into Harmony’s all-time lead in the series (8-7-0) and was Smart’s first win over a Don Simon-coached Harmony team.

St. Cloud closes out the regular season on Friday night with a game at Lakeland’s Victory Christian Academy.  The second ranked school in 2A, Victory is 7-1 on the season and will present a challenge to the Bulldogs.  Smart believes a win may pull enough points for St. Cloud to secure an at-large spot in the playoffs.

“It’s why we scheduled them in the first place,” Smart said. “They are a really good team and are well coached.  If we can come away with a win it should be enough to earn a number seven or eight seed in our region.”

The Longhorns close out its 2019 campaign at home against Lake Brantley (6-3-0).

LIBERTY 26, POINCIANA 13

The Liberty Chargers overcame a 13-6 halftime deficit to defeat the Poinciana Eagles, 26-13, in the 13th Annual Battle of the Boulevards.  

Poinciana, which remains winless in the series, dropped to 3-6 on the season; while the Chargers won for the first time in nine games this season.

Kynon Clemons caught a pair of touchdown passes for Liberty, who scored the final 20 points in the game.

“My worst fears came true,” Poinciana Head Coach Randy Beeken said. “We got off to a great start, but then they just wore us down in the second half. We were down three starters and that didn’t help, but we still played one of our better defensive games of the season.”

The Eagles will have a chance to end the season on a positive note when they travel to Cocoa Beach (2-7). A victory would give the Eagles four wins on the season, the most in more than two decades.

TOHOPEKALIGA 51, CELEBRATION 8

In only its second year of existence, the Tohopekaliga Tigers (5-4) collected its fifth win of the season with a convincing 51-8 win over Celebration (3-6). Tyler Wesley completed seven of 11 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns; while the Tigers ground game rolled to 256 yards and four more touchdowns in the win.

Will Bonn, the Storm’s standout senior quarterback, accounted for Celebration’s lone touchdown — connecting on a 65-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Gonzalez.

A victory over Haines City (0-9) in Friday’s finale would give Tohopekaliga six wins – four more than they won in their inaugural season in 2018.

Auburndale 35, GATEWAY 8

Taddiurus Thomas rushed for a pair of touchdowns to lead Auburndale to a 35-8 win over Gateway on Friday night. The loss dropped the Panthers to 0-9 on the season

Senior running back Philip Bangura posted the lone score for Gateway with a 6-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Hunter Knapczyk, a 5-9, 180-pound converted safety, had 14 solo tackles for the Panthers from his middle linebacker position.

“It’s been a tough year for my team,” Panther Head coach Marlin Roberts said. “We just have never had a season like this before. We have depth issues everywhere, but the one positive note has been the attitude of the players that have stuck it out.  They continue to play hard the entire game and that’s all we can ask of them.”

The Panthers close out the season on the road, playing at Olympia (3-6) on Friday night.