St. Cloud hopes to breathe life into what’s lately been a lopsided football series against Osceola. But history over the last two decades — the Kowboys have won 20 of the last 22 meetings — and last week, when Osceola used a fast start to defeat Lake Gibson, 28-14, aren’t going for it.
The Bulldogs make their regular-season debut Friday at Tom Gannarelli Field at 7:30. They were off last week, and have been trying to fine-tune their schemes since a 35-17 loss to Boone in the Kickoff Classic Aug. 17.
Osceola leads the all-time series with St. Cloud, the fifth-oldest in the state of Florida, 63-27-4. The Bulldogs claimed wins in 2004-05, and won a 2010 overtime thriller, 41-35, but had to forfeit for using an ineligible player.
The two starting quarterbacks in the game will have combined for one regular-season varsity start when the whistle blows Friday. Osceola’s Devon Wells, after managing a Kickoff Classic win over defending state champion Dr. Phillips, led the Kowboys to a 28-14 win over Lake Gibson last week with his legs and arms. He threw for a pair of scores and ran for one.
St. Cloud junior Koron Perrin seemed to win the job in the Bulldogs’ preseason game, but Coach Bryan Smart said he and sophomore Garrett King have gotten continual reps in practice leading up to Friday.
“Koron played the best we have seen him play since we got him against Boone,” he had the hot hand and we kept going to him,” Smart said. “Garrett did get some work, not nearly enough. We will have our starter ready to go against Osceola.
“We have many new starters and we are very young, but that’s not an excuse. We are playing one of the best teams in the state. If were not ready on every single play, it will be a long night. They are so tough, and well-coached, we for sure have our work cut out for us. It will be a great atmosphere as it’s the home opener and a rivalry game. We are excited for the opportunity to play them.”
For Osceola, it’s win Friday featured much of the what’s been expected of late: nearly 300 yards rushing, five quarterback sacks and two forced turnovers.
Yet it was still far from Coach Doug Nichols’ expectations.
“We had a 21-7 lead at halftime and were getting the ball first in the second half. We told our kids it was the most important drive of the game and I knew if we scored, we could take control,” Nichols said. “And what happens? We get two false start penalties on third and one plays and then get another big play negated for having 12 men on the field.”
DeWayne McGee led a stable of six runners that compiled 298 yards on 49 carries. He toted the ball 12 times for 108 yards to go with his touchdown reception. Wells added a 26-yard touchdown run while Rashaun Dudley added 45 yards on nine carries and added a 5-yard touchdown. Timius Williams added 81 yards on eight carries.
Osceola did take that 28-7 lead in the third quarter on Dudley’s 5-yard scoring run, but on the ensuing kickoff, Sam McCall broke containment and raced 81 yards for a touchdown to cut the gap back to two scores at 28-14. But the Braves got no closer.
“For a first game there were some negatives but a lot of positives,” Nichols added. “I thought our defense played a great game by forcing turnovers and getting after the quarterback. We ran the ball fairly well and I even have to take some of the penalties with a grain of salt; the too many men on the field penalty was on me, not our players. Obviously we have a lot to improve on, but again we got the win and saw some good things.”