The on and off and on again Osceola-St. Cloud football game is set for Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Tom Gannarelli Field after school officials arranged for football schedule changes later this week.
The game was canceled after Hurricane Matthew, but after district games scheduled for Thursday were moved to Saturday, there was time for both teams to play their rivalry game Monday and then prepare for those games later in the week.
The game is Florida’s fifth-oldest football rivalry, has been played since 1925, except for a one year break due to WWII.
The Osceola at Gateway and St. Cloud at Liberty games have been moved from Thursday to Saturday at 7 p.m.
Osceola dominated last year’s game, 55-23, to win its 10th in a row and expand its series lead to 61-27-4. The canceled game would have been the 93rd in the series. The game was canceled in 1944 because
St. Cloud won on the field in overtime in 2010, 41-35, in a thrilling season opener that saw the teams score eight touchdowns in the last 15 minutes. But the victory was overturned after the Bulldogs had to forfeit several games for using an ineligible player.
Monday’s game marks the first time that both SCHS and OHS enter unbeaten since 1999. St. Cloud is 4-0, 2-0 in the district. Osceola is 6-0 and 2-0 ranked No. 2 in Class 8A. For the second year in a row, the game was selected by the Great American Rivalry Series, presented by the U.S. Marines, as one of the nation’s 100 great rivalries.
Both teams collected important district victories last week. St. Cloud ran away from Celebration, 43-14, in 7A-5, but Osceola had to run a trick play to overcome Davenport Ridge Community, 27-26, for a crucial 8A-7 win.
Osceola quarterback Braxton Jones scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to lift OHS, erasing a 26-13 third-quarter deficit.
Dipping into their bag of tricks, the Kowboys ran a reverse option pass play for the winning score with just over a minute to play. Da’Nas Pinellas took a pitch from Malcolm Davidson and passed 12 yards to quarterback Braxton Jones for the game-winning score.
Coach Doug Nichols calls the play “Money Right.”
“It was exciting, for sure,” he said.
Nichols isn’t afraid to dial up trick plays in big games. In the 2010 OHS-St. Cloud game, the one that St. Cloud had to forfeit, the Kowboys ran a similar play on fourth-and-1 to tie the score late in the fourth quarter.
Jones (12-121, 1 TD) raced 65 yards for a touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter, when OHS trailed by 13 points after a long rain delay.
The Kowboys built a first-quarter lead on an 88-yard run by Davidson (7-182, 1 TD) on their first possession, and on Connor Parker’s 20-yard fumble return.
The Kowboys rushed for 401 of their 423 total yards.
Osceola, is seeking its sixth straight district championship. Ridge fell to 3-2 and 1-1.
“It was a big win for us. The defense came out and got a big stop and the offense kind of took it from there,” Nichols said. “We knew it was going to be a tough one. Our last three games against Ridge under Coach (Richard) Tate have been decided by like five points.”
St. Cloud Coach Bryan Smart watched his team overcome 100 yards of penalties and a rain delay during its homecoming win over Celebration.
Charles Robinson (20-119, 2 TDs) ran for a pair of touchdowns, including one from 54 yards for the first TD of the game, and Seth Johnson (3-33, 2 TDs) scored on two short TD dashes for the Bulldogs.
St. Cloud finished with 328 total yards. Quarterback Colt Smith hit 9-of-17 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Taylor caught a 22-yard TD pass early in the third quarter to expand the 15-6 halftime lead to 21-6, and Donquarius Lewis caught an 18-yarder with 37 seconds left in the game.Dezmond Pierce had a pair of interceptions.
St. Cloud lost its first home game Sept. 2 when East Ridge had to cancel because of Hurricane Hermine.
Other local high school games this week are not affected by the hurricane. Celebration visits Harmony Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Poinciana travels to South Lake Friday at 7 p.m.
Reporters Rick Pedone and Ken Jackson contributed to this report.