Falls sports began winding down last week, but even with the football playoffs starting the COVID-19 crisis has created a unique situation where some regular season football games will be played throughout the month of November and even into early December. Here’s look at high school sports around the county:
High school golf wrapped up in Florida last weekend with the Florida High School Athletic Association State Championships being held at Mission Inn on Oct. 30-31. For a second consecutive year, St. Cloud High School’s Morgan Beaulieu represented Osceola County as an at-large qualifier. Beaulieu shot 76-75-151 in the two-day event to finish in 18th place overall. Beaulieu qualified for the event by finishing in fourth place in regionals a week earlier. A three-time Orange Belt Conference champion and a two-time state qualifier, Beaulieu is the Osceola News Gazette’s Girl’s Golfer of the Year for the third consecutive time.
St. Cloud senior Bryan Hernandez is the ONG’s Boy’s Golfer of the Year. A three-time all-conference performer, Hernandez was the Orange Belt Conference champion as a junior and finished in a tie for ninth at regionals with a 74 – finishing just one stroke out a playoff for an at-large spot in the state championship tournament.
Osceola High School finished its season with a deep run into the playoffs. The Lady Kowboys recorded an impressive road upset of Newsome on Oct. 28 to advance to the Class 7A Regional Finals where they lost to an outstanding Lake Nona team (19-3) in straight sets (25-15, 25-22, 25-17). Still, it was an impressive showing for Osceola, which finished at 16-7 in what head coach Carrie Palmi described as a rebuilding season.
“We lost three starting seniors last year who are now playing collegiately but at the same time we knew that we had a lot of talent coming back,” Palmi said. “We started three freshmen last season who gained a lot of confidence and experience and that certainly carried over to this year. I’m super proud of what our team accomplished this year and believe we can advance even further next year.”
Because of the Covid situation, several teams were able to schedule additional regular season matches after the state tournament. After being eliminated in district play, St. Cloud finished its season with three wins in four matches to end its year with a 19-3 record. Harmony (9-6) and Tohopekaliga (6-3) also finished their seasons.
The playoffs begin this week, but only three county schools (Osceola, St. Cloud and Tohopekaliga) elected to participate in the state series. Osceola and St. Cloud have first round playoff byes, while Tohopekaliga hosts Winter Springs (0-7) on Friday night.
In action last week, senior quarterback John Smith threw five touchdowns and Mile Rosenburg caught two passes as Liberty (3-4) raced past Celebration (1-4) by a 42-14 count. Alain Jackquet had a “pick-six” for Liberty, while Kerly Thelsume also had an interception. Foster Searcy had two TD passes for Celebration, while Chip McCuiston had three catches for 77 yards and a score.
Kevin Lavigne’s 37-yard field goal accounted for the lone points the Harmony Longhorns (3-4) could muster in a 35-3 road loss to Central Florida power Lake Brantley. The Longhorns are idle this week and will host Liberty on Nov. 20.
Senior running back Jakovi Bryant, playing in his first game since dislocating his shoulder in the first quarter of the season opener, rushed for 200 yards and four touchdowns as Gateway (1-4) defeated Poinciana (1-6) by a 21-7 count. It was the Panthers first win in 16 games dating back to a 55-48 win over Mt. Dora two years earlier.
“Couldn’t be prouder of the kids,” Head Coach Marlin Roberts said. “They never gave up the last couple of seasons, but we have either been overmatched or lacking numbers to be competitive. This victory felt like heaven to our kids and staff.”
Gateway travels to Haines City this week.
Running back Patrick Forsyth rushed 144 yards and four touchdowns, and quarterback Garhett King threw for 150 yards and rushed for two more scores as St. Cloud improved to 5-2 on the season with a 42-0 win over Akelynn's Angels Christian Academy. Gunner Lowery led the way defensively for the Bulldogs with nine total stops and a quarterback sack. In other action involving county teams, Tohopekaliga went to 4-3 on the season with a 43-14 win over Haines City.
The Class 4A and 3A Championships being held this past week. Celebration High School was represented by 33 swimmers in the state meet, including junior Felipe Costa who qualified for several events and was the number one seeded state swimmer in the 100-meter backstroke. Osceola High School qualified one swimmer for the state 4-A meet in David Denarski in the 50-free. Harmony and Gateway qualified a total of five swimmers for the 3-A Championship meet.
At the state meet, Costa was the highest county finisher – taking 5th place in the 100-back. He also competed on the 200 Medley Relay team that finished 13th. Celebration finished 26th in the 4A meet with 23.5 points.
Both St. Cloud and Harmony scored points in the Class 3A meet.