By any sense of the word, it would be difficult to call Friday’s Osceola at Harmony game a rivalry. The teams have played just six times in Harmony’s 15-year history and have not met since 2013.
Other than a 20-14 win for the Longhorns in the first meeting in 2008, Osceola has dominated the short series since then, going 5-0 and outscoring Harmony in the process, 190-25. Furthermore, seniors on both teams were only in the sixth grade the last time the teams met.
And while it’s not a rivalry, both Osceola Head Coach Doug Nichols and Harmony Head Coach Don Simon hope the series will continue beyond the current two-year contract that will have Harmony play at Osceola in 2020.
“Not sure if it could become a rivalry or not, but what I do know is that Coach Simon has done a phenomenal job at Harmony,” Nichols said. “He won nine games and got his team into the playoffs in just his second season. Don has some really talented players on both sides of the ball and they are well coached. I have a lot of respect for what they have accomplished over there and this is a game I hope we can start playing every year.”
“This is exactly the type of game we need to play early in the season,” Simon said. “Year-in and year- out, Osceola is not only one of the best teams in the area, but one of the best teams in the state. I like to test our kids early in the season. It can help get us ready for district play and also gets us ready for the post-season. It certainly is the type of a game I like to play early in the year and given the proximity between the two schools one that would natural to possibly schedule annually.”
Osceola, which has won nine or more games eight straight years, will face an extremely difficult schedule this season. In addition to opening on the road with Harmony, the Kowboys will play state powers Miami Columbus and Cocoa in the first three weeks.
The Kowboys played defending state champion Lakeland in its Kickoff Classic last week and rallied from a 34-0 halftime deficit before falling 43-20.
“We got accomplished what we needed to get accomplished last week,” Nichols said. “We got a lot of players in the game and I was impressed with the fact that the kids did not quit on themselves after falling behind 34-0. I think they showed a lot of character fighting back.”
Nichols did say he was a bit concerned about his offensive line, after two starters were injured in fall camp and a third starter moved away from the area.
“We’re going to be a little thin up front until we get the injured players back,” Nichols said.
Simon noted his team suffered some defensive lapses in their 35-21 loss to Boone, but blamed some it on his team’s inability to practice outdoors for much of the week because of thunderstorms.
“We had some moments on both offense and defense, but we just lacked consistency,” Simon said.
As far as this week’s game against Osceola, Simon noted his team must keep the vaunted Osceola running game from controlling the clock.
“On defense, we can’t afford to let them go on those drives where they chew the clock for seven or eight minutes at a time. We also need to be more consistent offensively and take advantage of every scoring opportunity we get.”
Last week’s roundup
Boone 35, HARMONY 21
Boone jumped out to an early lead and then cruised to a 35-21 win over the Longhorns.
Coach Don Simon noted that his defense played better than the score indicated and cited the play of junior defensive back Jason Moss and senior defensive tackle Reed Butler. Simon also said that his wide receivers as a group, along with slot receiver/running back Bobby Madril had solid efforts in the Kickoff Classic. Friday Night: Harmony host Osceola
Cypress Creek 20, POINCIANA 0
Cypress Creek recorded a shutout against host Poinciana in the Eagles Kickoff Classic by a 20-0 score.
The Eagles open their regular season on Friday night, hosting Lake Howell. Both teams will be looking to improve, as they are coming off identical 2-8 seasons. Friday Night: Poinciana hosts Lake Howell
Viera 35, LIBERTY 0
Despite dropping a 35-0 decision to Viera in their pre-season game, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Pennington was extremely optimistic as his team prepares for Friday night’s opener against Lake Brantley.
“Offensively we moved the ball well and had a lot of plays on their end of the field and we just couldn’t punch it in,” Pennington noted. “The score is the score, and I get that, but I thought we played a lot better than we did in our spring game. This is a young team that is going to take some time to gel.”
Lake Brantley is coming off a six-win season and that’s a down year by their standards, so I know we are going to get their best shot.” Friday Night: Liberty travels to Lake Brantley
ST. CLOUD 35, Deltona 0
Bryan Smart’s team looked impressive in a 35-0 win over Deltona in its pre-season game.
Wide receiver Keron Perin caught three touchdown passes and running back Ronny Ramos had an outstanding game both running the ball and blocking for his quarterback. Defensive end Kwaisi Crudut and middle linebacker Caleb Endicott spearheaded a defense that allowed just three Deltona first downs in the game. Smart added that he was pleased his team also won the turnover battle, forcing two and not giving up zero in the win. Despite the performance, Smart said his team will need to be even better when it opens the season on the road against Bayside Friday night.
They took it to state power Cocoa in their Kickoff Game, and I know we don’t play mistake free football, we might have some problems against them,” Smart said.
Friday Night: St. Cloud travels to Bayside (Palm Bay)
Lakeland 43, OSCEOLA 20
Heading into the final tune-up before this week’s opener with Harmony, Osceola Head Coach Doug Nichols said that it wouldn’t matter if his team lost by 50 to defending state champion Lakeland in its pre-season game because his only goal was to play as many players as possible to see which younger players would be able to help his team in 2019. He felt he accomplished that goal, although his team fell behind 34-0 at the half before outscoring Lakeland 20-9 in the second half of a 43-2o loss. Running back DeWayne McGee picked up where he left off for Osceola last year, scoring on touchdown runs of 76, 22 and 53 yards. Friday Night: Osceola Travels to Harmony
CELEBRATION 34, Teneroc 12
Celebration quarterback Will Bohn threw four touchdown passes in Celebration’s 34-12 win over Teneroc in its preseason game.
“We really didn’t know what to expect heading into the preseason game,” Storm Head Coach Jay Skobe noted. “We played well on both sides of the ball and I think it will give us some momentum heading into the regular season.”
The Storm will open at home against Pine Ridge (Deltona), a team that went winless a season ago (0-10). Friday Night: Celebration hosts Pine Ridge (Deltona)
TOHOPEKALIGA 41, Avon Park 0
Coach Mark Deas squad got off to a flying start last Friday, beating Avon Park 41-0 in its preseason game. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Wesley has a huge game with four touchdown passes, including two to senior Blake McCullough and one each to Tahquis Armstrong and Kareem Dizney. Nate Isaac and Myles Winslow spearheaded the defensive effort. Each recorded sacks and Winslow also recovered a fumble. Toho opens the season Friday night at home against Jupiter, a team that beat them 35-0 in Toho’s first game ever.
“They are a difficult defense to defend,” Deas said. “Their quarterback throws a nice ball, but he’s also not afraid to take off and run over defenders. They are a very disciplined and well-coached team. We are going to need a consistent effort from both our offense and defense to come out on top.” Friday Night: Tohopekaliga hosts Jupiter.