Seldom do you see a coach talk with unabashed positivity following a five-touchdown loss.
But that’s exactly what second-year Tohopekaliga Coach Marc Deas did following his team’s season opening 42-8 home loss to Lake Minneola on Friday.
“Seldom would I say a game like that wasn’t a disappointment, but it really wasn’t,” Deas said. “Minneola was a really good team, but frankly we just made a little mistakes in all three phases of the game or we would have been right there with them. I was optimistic coming into the season and I remain optimistic. We will get back to work this week, fix those mistakes and we are going to be a good team.”
Many of those mistakes Deas spoke about came early in the game. On the opening kickoff, Minneola’s Robbie Sanders found a gap and returned the opening kickoff 85-yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Hawks would add two more scores in the first half on a 15-yard touchdown run by Sadarius Walker and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Braden Davis to Isaiah Shannon as Minneola built a 21-0 lead.
Toho was able to move the ball well in the first half, but two time-consuming drives were killed in part by dead-ball penalties. In addition, the Tigers’ offensive line were having trouble picking up Minneola blitzes as quarterback Tyler Wesley was sacked four times in the first half.
Minneola would take advantage of some more mistakes in third period and Walker and Shannon each scored again, as Minneola extended the lead to 34-0.
Toho’s offense finally got on track in the fourth quarter. DiMario Tolan capped a long-touchdown drive with a 9-yard touchdown run and Wesley hit Dayvon Davis on a two-point conversion to make it 34-8. The touchdown was set up on a 56-yard pass from Wesley to Luis Maddox.
Later in the quarter, Wesley would hit Maddox on a 43-yard pass to get inside the red zone, but a fourth down interception in the end zone ended the Toho threat.
Wesley finished the game seven for 18 for 158 yards and two interceptions. Anthony Mercado picked up a tough 66 yards rushing on 18 carries.
The road does not get any easier for the Tigers (0-1), who face perennial Central Florida power Bishop Moore (1-1) on Friday.