St. Cloud and Gateway both played, and lost, games against county foes last week.
Only thing to do on Friday is saddle up and play it again — against each other — on Friday at Gateway’s Ridenour Athletic Complex, so somebody’s coming out of it with a win.
Despite both teams getting off to good starts last week, St. Cloud (0-1) fell to Osceola (2-0), 34-14 and Gateway (0-2) lost to Harmony (1-1), 41-21.
Both teams mounted long offensive drives in the first quarter of their games that kept the opposing offenses on the sideline, but those drives netted no points.
“We came out and did what we wanted to do in the first quarter but we just did not finish our drives,” St. Cloud Head Coach Bryan Smart said. “When you fail to take advantage of your opportunities, a team like Osceola is not going to let you off the hook. They really pounded us on the ground in that second period, but I felt we still had a chance.”
That chance came late in the second quarter as Seth Johnson broke off a 39-yard run and junior quarterback Korron Perrin, who carried 10 times for 100 yards in his regular-season varsity debut behind center, scored on a two-yard run to cut an early gap to 28-7 at the half.
St. Cloud was able to tack on a late touchdown on Johnson’s 14-yard reception.
“I could not be prouder of our kids,” Smart added. “We lost 20 of 22 starters off of last year’s team and we are playing a lot of young, inexperienced guys. But we never quit and we played hard for the entire game. Unfortunately, we also had a bunch of kids cramping up during the game and we certainly don’t have the depth that Osceola does. But give them a lot of credit, they are big, strong, physical and well-coached and we did not have an answer for their run game or their front four on defense.”
The Panthers (0-2) forced Harmony into three-and-outs on their first two offensive series, then kept that offense on the sidelines by grinding the clock and the chains on a 13-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that chewed over seven minutes off the clock. First-and-goal from the 5 turned into third-and-22, but Maurice Adams flipped a screen pass to Phillip Bangura, who weaved through tacklers into the end zone.
Harmony took a 14-7 lead into halftime but Gateway again tried to steal away the momentum after halftime; Tyler Tyrell's 58-yard run on the first play of the third quarter set up Adams' three-yard TD strike to Tyreek Robinson, then they hooked up again on a two-point conversion for a 15-14 lead.
But Harmony scored the rest of the offensive points in the game, with the Panthers getting a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown that made it 34-21 early in the fourth quarter.
“We don’t have the depth ready to go right now, the younger guys we would have are at the new school,” Panthers Coach Marlin Roberts said. “We’re getting worn out in the fourth quarter, we see it coming. But our kids will be ready to go Friday, nobody’s hanging their heads. St. Cloud is a good, solid rivalry among kids who know each other.”
Thanks to some big chunk plays, Gateway ran the ball with authority (43 rushes for 239 yards), which has Smart’s attention.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge heading over there Friday,” he said. “We battled with Osceola and I was super proud of our effort. We have to continue to go forward and can’t have any setbacks. Gateway is very talented and very athletic and we will need our A-game to get a win.”
J. Daniel Pearson contributed to this story.