By: J. Daniel Pearson
Osceola High School’s Markus Paul Stadium was filled fans from the two oldest high schools in Osceola County Friday night as they met for the 100th time. It was a night of pride, memories, hope, and loyalty as the Kowboys, who were winless coming into the game, fought to keep their position as county powerhouse, taking home the 49-3 win over St. Cloud, for the 13th straight on-field win in the series.
Officially, it was Osceola 19th consecutive win over the Bulldogs, after St. Cloud had to forfeit its 2010 win (41-35) due to player eligibility issues. Overall, the Kowboys now lead the all-time series 68-28-4.
Osceola went to 1-5 with the win, St. Cloud dropped to 2-3.
“It was a big win for us for a couple of reasons,” Osceola coach Eric Pinellas said. “First, our team really needed a win for morale after opening the season 0-5. Secondly, this is the first time this year that I thought we played hard for four quarters. We didn’t turn the ball over and with the exception of the two players we lost for the season, we had everybody back and healthy tonight. Hopefully this is a game we can use as a springboard for the rest of our season.”
It was a beautiful night for high school football at Osceola High School, with hundreds of former players, coaches and cheerleaders, attending the game.
On Osceola’s very first possession, Alijah Jenkins ripped off a 13-yard run and Taevion Swint covered the final 29 yards on two carries as the Kowboys led 7-0. Two possessions later, Camren West drove the Kowboys 70 yards on six plays – hitting Swint on a 31-yard scoring pass to make it 14-0.
Swint would add touchdown runs of six and 10 yards in the second quarter and Elijah Hixson contributed a nine-yard scoring run. St. Cloud could only counter with a 36-yard field goal by Adrian Gonzalez as Osceola built a 35-3 lead at intermission.
Osceola’s domination of the game. would continue in the third quarter.
With seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, Swint would rip off a 58-yard run and two plays later Zion Mathews would score from two yards out to extend the lead to 42-3 and institute the running clock under FHSAA “mercy rules.”
Osceola would get just one more possession in the game and would see its substitutes capitalize as Javonte Simpson scored on a 14-yard touchdown reception for the 49-3 final.
For the game, Osceola’s defense held St. Cloud to just 107 net years of total offense. They forced three turnovers, blocked a punt, and held on down three times.
Meanwhile, the Kowboy offense was clicking.
Swint finished with 163 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns. He had 192 yards rushing and receiving on just 13 touches. Hickson had 47 yards and a touchdown on six carries and West was 8 for 13 passing for 109 and two touchdowns. Osceola finished with 364 total yards on 37 plays – averaging just under 10 yards per play.
“I thought Camren grew up a lot tonight, “ Pinellas said about his sophomore quarterback. “We still have a chance to be a pretty good team and we need to build off this effort tonight.”
The path to the post-season is pretty clear for the Kowboys. Following next week’s bye, Osceola must beat Celebration (1-5) in two weeks and then defeat Tohopekaliga (4-1) on Oct. 27 to win their district and qualify for the playoffs. St. Cloud (0-2 in district play) was eliminated from the district race and will play Gateway next week.
O: Taevion Swint 9 yard run (Adam El Baraka kick), 7=0
O: Swint 6 run (El Baraka kick), 14-0
O: Swint 31 pass from Camren West (El Baraka kick), 21-0
O: Swint 6 run (El Baraka kick), 28-0
SC: FG, Adrian Gonzalez, 39-Yard, 28-3
O: Elijah Hickson 9 run (El Baraka kick), 35-3
O: Zion Mathews 2 run (El Baraka kick) 42-3
O: Javonte Simpson 14 pass from West (El Baraka kick), 49-3
Prior to Gateway opening in 1985, Osceola and St. Cloud were the only two public high schools in the county. The C-31 canal, a waterway linking East Lake Tohopekaliga and Lake Tohopekaliga, was the dividing point in determining which high school students would attend….Osceola now leads the all-time series 68-28-4. The Kowboys now won on the field the last 13 straight games from 2011-23, since St. Cloud’s last win in 2010 (41-35). The Bulldog victory was forfeited to Osceola later that year due to player eligibility issues. So the official Osceola win streak now stands at 19 games heading into 2024….St. Cloud’s longest win streak in the series was three games, 1949-51. Osceola’s current 19-game winning streak is the Kowboys longest in the series….The teams played twice in 1927 and 1931, with no game in 1942 because of World War II; so the 100th anniversary of the game will be in 2025….Osceola has won the last 13 games by an average of 35 points per game…The game was attended by hundreds of former players on both sides, including Ed Partin, who played in the 1958 game 65 years ago.