Tohopekaliga and Poinciana joined St. Cloud as the only other schools to record victories in week two of the regular season. Toho, which opened last year, won a home game for the first time in school history, defeating St. Pete Dixie Hollins; while the Eagles of Poinciana knocked off in-country rival Celebration.
A slow moving Hurricane Dorian may be the big winner this week, as the status of all county games is in question due to the massive storm. At press time, all local schools were closed. That mandated the cancellation of all school activities – including football practice.
A look at last week and the schedule for Friday:
Heritage 32, HARMONY 14
Rontavious Farmer rushed for three touchdowns to lead Heritage to a 32-14 home win over Harmony (0-2). The Longhorns managed to close the gap to seven midway through the second quarter on a 61-yard scoring pass from sophomore Keaghan Black. The Longhorns trailed by just seven heading into the fourth quarter, but a 12-0 run in the period iced the game for Heritage.
NEXT GAME: The Longhorns have their district opener at Palm Bay, who will take a 1-0 record into the contest.
TOHOPEKALIGA 38, Dixie Hollins 18
Marc Deas got his first victory as a head coach as Tohopekaliga improved to 1-1 on the season with an impressive 38-18 win over Dixie Hollins (St. Petersburg) on Friday night.
The game avenged a 32-6 loss to Hollins the year before. It was a back-and-forth game for the Tigers, as they trailed early 3-0, when Blake McCullough caught the ensuing kickoff and raced 60 yards for a touchdown. Tohopekaliga caught Dixie Hollins sleeping on the next play as they executed a perfect on-sides kick. A few plays later, Toho was in the end zone and had a 12-3 lead. But after extending that lead to 20-3, Dixie Hollins fought back with a couple of touchdowns to cut the gap to 20-18. After the Tigers went three and out to open the second half, Deas said he felt the game slipping away from his young charges.
“I was starting to get one of those feelings where you just see a game where you had total control of just getting away from you and you can’t do anything about it. Fortunately Tahquis Armstrong wasn’t going to let that happen,” Deas said.
With Hollins trailing by just two and with possession of the ball, they split out their quarterback and sent a direct snap to their running back, who threw a screen pass to the quarterback, hoping to catch Toho sleeping with a double pass.
“Tahquis read it perfectly and got a great jump on the ball,” Deas said. “To tell you the truth I think he was just trying to bat the ball down but it just stuck to his hand. He returned it 50 yards for a touchdown and it put us up by nine. Frankly it was one of the most spectacular plays I have ever seen in high school football. There was no question it was the pivotal play of the game and you could just see all the momentum and emotion disappear from their sideline.”
For the game, sophomore quarterback Tyler Wesley had another big game, accounting for three total touchdowns in the victory.
NEXT GAME: Tohopekaliga (1-1) travels to Poinciana (1-1) where they hope to avenge a 20-18 loss from a season ago.
“We fell way behind early and then staged a big comeback last year, only to lose by two. It was a hard-fought and emotional game and I know it left a bad taste in our mouths and we will be looking for a little payback against them,” Deas said.
Offensive line woes continue to hurt Gateway as a stout Hagerty defense shutout the Panthers, 23-0. “Our offensive line consists of exactly one player with any varsity experience and it is certainly showing early in the season,” Head Coach Marlin Roberts said. “I guess if there is a bright spot, it’s that they seem to be getting a little better each game and in the long term – although I don’t like to use the term ‘a rebuilding year’ -- we should be getting almost all of the starters and backups back next year.” Roberts added that his defense played extremely well in the game.
“We only trailed 14-0 at the half and our defense did not give up anything in the second half. They returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown and they pinned us deep on a punt that resulted in a safety a few plays later.”
Roberts praised the play of several defensive players, including senior linebacker Robert Martinez, senior lineman KyJaun Allen and sophomore OL Trent Yambor.
“Those guys played their hearts out all game,” Roberts noted. “Especially Allen, who goes both ways and essentially played the entire game.”
NEXT GAME: Gateway (0-2) is scheduled to play county-rival St. Cloud on Friday, weather permitting. The Panthers have dominated the series of late, winning the last seven games with the last Bulldog win coming in 2011 (45-20).
POINCIANA 23, Celebration 10
The Poinciana Eagles evened their 2019 record at 1-1 with a hard-fought 23-10 win over Celebration (1-1) last Friday. The Storm, which came into the game at 1-0, had several first half red zone opportunities but failed to convert.
“The game was played in sloppy, wet conditions,” Storm head coach Jay Sobke said. “But that’s not an excuse and that’s not to take anything away from Poinciana. They came in with a great game plan and they executed and we did not.”
Celebration’s lone touchdown came in the second half on a pass from Will Bohn to Anthony Gonzalez.
NEXT GAME: Poinciana will take on Tohopekaliga at home on Friday; Celebration will have a bye week.
The 0-1 Chargers had a bye week and did not play.
NEXT GAME: Liberty will host Sebring (1-1) on Friday night.
“They are traditionally a playoff-calibre team, so we expect a challenge from them,” Charger Head Coach Brandon Pennington said. “Our team showed tremendous improvement from the Kickoff Classic to week one against Lake Brantley and we had a really good week of practice in our bye week. The key will be to keep improving and keep our confidence level up. We have some tremendous skill players but we need to play disciplined, assignment football in order to get them the ball.”