Here’s a list of understatements:
Florida can be a warm and humid place … Disney World can get crowded … jet engines are loud … and the annual Osceola-St. Cloud football rivalry has titled a bit toward the Kowboys during the lifespan of current players, and their older siblings.
Thanks to winning 20 of the last 23 games on the field, Osceola leads the all-time series with St. Cloud, the fifth-oldest in the state of Florida, 64-27-4.
But when the two teams take to Henry Ramsey Field on Friday at 7:30 p.m., a little life should be breathed into the game.
Osceola is 4-1 on the season after drubbing Cypress Creek 41-0 last week in a District 8A-6 game. It’s a typical season thus far for the Kowboys, who seek a ninth consecutive district championship. They are rolling, as usual, behind a relentless rushing attack power by quarterback Devon Wells and running backs DeWayne McGee, Ja’Randy Swint, Roshaun Dudley, Jamison Jones and others.
But, for a change, St. Cloud will bring resistance — and its best legitimate chance to get a win in the series in almost a decade — to Kissimmee. The Bulldogs are 5-0, and have won nine consecutive regular-season games going back to the last half of 2018. They stayed perfect last week in a 32-14 win over Gateway.
Junior quarterback Garhett King became the starter midway through 2018 and sparked change in the Bulldog huddle. He’s thrown for almost 1,000 yards already this year and has 12 touchdown passes.
St. Cloud’s all-everything “Weapon X”, Seth Johnson, graduated last year and is now at the University of West Florida, but that has just made the Bulldogs multi-dimensional. New weapons have emerged like slotback Patrick Forsythe, who has five touchdowns among 14 receptions as well as four rushing scores, receiver Romeo Medina has 31 catches for 429 yards and three scores at the midpoint of the season, and Koron Perrin, a threat to throw, run or catch the ball on any play, accounts for 550 yards in all phases of the game.
St. Cloud last won this game on the scoreboard in 2010, but later was found to have suited up an ineligible player and had to officially forfeit the win back.
The Bulldogs won in 2004-05, their first back-to-back wins since the early ’90s; the 28-24 win in 2005 was their first in the series in Kissimmee since 1995. That game was an instant classic, another overtime game. St. Cloud went for two in extra time, got it and won a 29-28 game that went straight into school lore; the team was inducted into the St. Cloud Athletics Hall of Fame recently as a group.
This year’s version will be played right at the season’s midpoint, but over the years the game has moved all over the schedule. For many years it was played in the final week of the regular season, but in years where the teams were in the same district (district games aren’t allowed in the final week) it was moved up a week. That stopped about about 10 years ago when Osceola added Lakeland and St. Cloud added Harmony, a new rival, to their districts and would often end up playing them and St. Cloud back to back, which meant spending nearly all the season’s emotional energy over two weeks. The game then moved to the beginning of the season, marking the start of Osceola’s dominance in the series.
Here are a couple noteworthy years in the series:
• 1925: First game
• 1942: Only year a game wasn’t played, due to World War II
• 1998: OHS won the Class 5A state title that year, but needed a win against St. Cloud at the old Silver Spurs Arena, and got it without star running back Willie Green for their first district title since 1990.
• 1999: Final game of the season for Osceola (9-0), next to last for St. Cloud (8-0). Over 7,000 people invade OHS stadium, standing three deep around the fence and filling the stands. Kowboys win handily.
• 2003: Bulldogs go toe-to-toe with the Kowboys for the first time in years, tying the score at 34 before OHS scores with 1:39 left to take 41-34 victory. St. Cloud would win the next two.
• 2010: St. Cloud last win on the field, a 41-35 overtime thriller. That’s the last time Osceola lost a game to an Osceola County opponent.