On the game’s first play, an errant center snap sailed over Tohopekaliga quarterback Tyler Wesley’s head and rolled into the end zone.
Wesley fell on the ball, but Osceola led 2-0 with the safety. Little did any one suspect it would be the only points the Kowboys would score for nearly full two quarters. In fact, Osceola needed to block a field goal with six minutes to go in the second quarter to avoid falling behind.
Eventually the Kowboys (4-1) got their act together and won 29-0 against Toho; which fell to 2-3 on the season.
“That was far from a pretty first half,” Osceola Head Coach Doug Nichols said. “We have a young team and we just came out flat this week. It may have had something to do with the emotional loss to Edgewater last week. We told them how well they played in that game against one of the best teams in the state and when you do that with a young team you run the risk of getting them overconfident and not understanding they need to come out and play hard every game.”
Still, Osceola could take some positives out of the game.
Its defense pitched its third shutout in five games, forced three turnovers, blocked the field goal and a punt and also recorded eight quarterback sacks and seven other tackles-for-loss in the game.
Leading 2-0, Osceola reached the end zone with 3:18 remaining in the second quarter, when Ja’Randy Swint broke loose on an 18-yard touchdown run to make it 8-0. Just 13 seconds later, Lamont Lee stepped in front of a Wesley pass and returned the interception 23 yards for a score and a 15-0 lead.
On Toho’s next possession, the Kowboys forced a three and out and then partially blocked a punt to set its offense up at midfield. Quarterback Chad Mascoe needed just three plays to get Osceola in the end zone, hitting Izaiah Jean-Baptiste on a scoring pass with 1:36 remaining in the half to make it 22-0.
Numerous penalties and poor field position kept Osceola out of the end zone for all but one possession in the second half. Mascoe managed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Massimo Rubera midway through the third quarter for the 29-0 final.
“I wasn’t really happy with the way we played the entire game, but you have to give the Toho kids some credit too,” Nichols said. “They played hard the entire game and they certainly weren’t intimidated by us. They made some plays in the game.”
Those plays included a 58-yard run by Stevenson Sinophat and three completions between Wesley and Luis Maddox covering 43, 26 and 23 yards. But the Tigers failed to turn any of those drives into points – mainly because of Osceola’s dominating defensive line led by sophomores Derrick LeBlanc and John Walker (three quarterback sacks each).
Osceola, which opted into the post-season, will play two more regular season games – traveling to Lake Nona Thursday night before facing Vero Beach a week later.
“We’re going to be facing two pretty good spread teams that like to throw the ball around a lot,” Nichols said. “It should be a good prep work for the post-season.”
Toho plays at Celebration Friday night.