By:  J. Daniel Pearson

With three schools locked in a tight race, the 2023-24 Orange Belt Conference All-Sports trophy will be up for grabs this week as OBC champions will be decided in five sports – including baseball, softball, boys’ volleyball and both boys and girls track and field.

Currently, the Harmony Longhorns sit in first place with 119.5 points.  Harmony has won the last three OBC All-Sports trophies and eight of the last 12.  St. Cloud, which won four times since 2012 but none since 2020, is in second place with 115.5 points.  Celebration, fresh off a sweep in both boys’ and girls’ tennis, remains in shouting distance with 108 points.

Points are accumulated on an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis in each sport, based on the final performance of each team.  Each sport carries equal weight and with eight points available to the winner of each tournament this week, the 2023-24 OBC All-Sports trophy will be known this week.

“They’ve had it long enough so it would be an honor to have my good friend Dan (Harmony AD Dan Kerr) hand the trophy over to us,” St. Cloud Athletics Director Bryan Smart said.  “In all seriousness, both Harmony and St. Cloud place a lot of emphasis on the All-Sports award and I know how bad we want and how bad they want to keep it.  It is going to be a busy and intense week.”

Here is a look at OBC Championship Week:


The hardball tournament gets under way on Monday with top-seeded Harmony and second-seeded Osceola hosting quarterfinal doubleheaders.  At the Ranch in Harmony, the #5 Tohopekaliga and #4 Celebration meet at 4:30 p.m. with Harmony taking on #8 Liberty in the 7 p.m. nightcap.  The Longhorns received the top seed based on state rankings as of last Monday.  Harmony (9-8) has been on a roll of late – winning five of their last six including an emotional 5-3 road win over rival St. Cloud last Friday.  Iziah Santiago was leading the Harmony offensive attack with a .348 average and 17 RBI.

Tohopekaliga has been a streaky team, winning six of their first seven before losing four in a row.  With four wins in their last five, they lead the county with 10 wins. The Tigers will be led into this week’s tournament by Jackson Kook (3-1, 3.07 ERA, 38Ks in 27.1 IP and a .346 batting average) and Hudson Moberly (.413 batting average, 5 extra-base hits). 

The bottom half of the quarterfinal bracket is really interesting as it features rivals St. Cloud and Osceola, as well as some outstanding individual talent.  If #2 Osceola (6-9) and #3 St. Cloud (9-5) gets by their respective quarterfinal opponents in Poinciana (1-7) and Gateway (5-9), they would meet in a 7 p.m. semifinal game Tuesday night.  Osceola’s sub .500 record can most likely be chalked up to a brutal schedule, with their nine losses coming to opponents that are collectively 104-47 (69% winning percentage).  The Kowboys feature one of the top players in the region in Nick Palmi, who leads the team in hitting (.489), RBI (21) and extra-base hits (10).

Under head coach Dave Blackmore, St. Cloud does not start a senior and has plenty of talent of its own.  Freshman Sammy Echeverry (.452, 3 home run) is the top first-year player in the county; while his brother Sebastian (.438) and teammate Josh Bejarno (.405) are also above the .400 mark in hitting.  Pitcher/Shortstop Sean Gallagher was hitting .312, while lead the Bulldogs in innings pitched (20), strikeouts (30) and ERA (2.10).     

Harmony and Osceola will each host semifinal and consolation placement games on Tuesday; with St. Cloud hosting the OBC third place (4:30 p.m.) and championship game (7 p.m.) on Friday.


As with baseball, Harmony will be the top seed based on last Monday’s state rankings but also like baseball it should be a wide open affair as the Longhorns, Osceola and St. Cloud are all capable of winning the tournament.

“I like our chances, but it certainly will not be easy,” veteran St. Cloud coach Ray Whobrey noted.  “To get there, we most likely will have to beat two arch-rivals in Osceola and Harmony.  Getting the big hits and playing flawless defense will be a big key for us.”

Harmony and St. Cloud will host both quarterfinal and semifinal games on Monday and Tuesday; with Celebration hosting third place (5 p.m.) and the OBC Championship (7 p.m.) games on Friday.  

Harmony (5-7) will be a strong favorite to get through to the finals on the top half of the bracket as they open the tournament with Liberty (6-8) and would face the Poinciana (9-6) vs. Tohopekaliga (10-3) winner; while Osceola (6-7) and St. Cloud (7-9) could meet in the semifinals if they get by Liberty (6-8) and Celebration (3-9), respectively in the quarterfinals.

Pegging a clear favorite is difficult.  Osceola is a super young team that starts five freshmen including Faith Ferrer (.534 batting average); St. Cloud has played an incredibly difficult schedule and does own a 2-1 win over the Kowboys; while top-seeded Harmony, led by Isabella Correa (.528) and Emerson Aslan (.484, 5 home runs, 13 RBI), has not played a top county opponent to date – making predicting a winner a true guessing game.

Boys’ Volleyball  

After winning the last two and four of the last five OBC Championships, Celebration was hit hard by graduation and will only be the number two seed heading into this week’s tournament.  The Monday quarterfinal schedule will see top seed St. Cloud (10-4) receiving a first round bye; with #4 Harmony meeting #5 Gateway in the first game.  St. Cloud will be led by senior Will Sutphen, with 171 kills and a .305 hitting percentage as the Bulldogs look to capture their second OBC title.  

The lower half of the quarterfinals (to be contested Monday at Celebration) finds #3 Poinciana (8-2) facing #6 Tohopekaliga (1-8) in the 5 p.m. opener; with the #2 Storm (4-3) taking on #7 Liberty (0-7) in the 7 p.m. nightcap.

Semifinal games and placement consolation games will be hosted by St. Cloud and Celebration on Tuesday; with the third place (5 p.m.) and OBC Championship game (7 p.m.) slated for Gateway on Friday night.


In each of the last three years, the Longhorns have won both the boys and girls championships.  While Harmony, with their depth in distance, middle distance and field events, may make them the favorite for a fourth straight girls championship; look for Gateway and St. Cloud to possibly challenge on the boys’ side.

“We have competed against most of the public county teams this year and frankly the Gateway boys’ team has some dudes up and down their roster,” long-time Osceola coach Eric Pinellas said.  “On the girls’ side, I think Harmony has some depth in the distance, middle distance and field events and will be really tough to unseat.  We are pretty strong in the sprints, but I lost one of my top girls to injury and I think that may keep us from having a shot at the team title.”

“It’s going to be a crazy week of intense competition,” Smart said about championship week.  “How fun would it be for the OBC All-Sports Trophy to come down to the final track events on Saturday?”