Heading into a Week 7 bye, the Osceola Kowboys recorded two dominating performances last week in running their season record to 5-1 and appear headed for a collision for a District title in two weeks against West Orange.
“We are really playing at a high level right now, especially on defense,” Osceola Head Coach Eric Pinellas said after his team followed a 56-0 rout of St. Cloud on Monday night with a 69-0 thrashing of Windermere on Friday. “We will use this off week to evaluate and work on cleaning up a few things, but overall, we are starting to come together.”
Since its season-opening 21-20 road loss to Cocoa, the top team in Class 4A, Osceola has dominated its opponents – outscoring them 282 to 21 during the current five-game winning streak. The defense, led by defensive tackles Derrick Leblanc and John Walker, have allowed just 63 net rushing yards in the last five games on 118 carries.
Against Windermere, Osceola jumped out to a quick 45-0 lead in the second quarter and cruised to the victory – recording their second consecutive shutout while forcing a “mercy rule” running clock for the fourth time in five games.
In games this on this week’s schedule, Harmony (3-2) visits Liberty (2-2) on Friday in a game that will feature one of the top running backs in the region. Longhorns’ sophomore Tyler Emans is close to the 1,000 yard mark in rushing through five games – after adding 231 yards on just 18 carries in a heart-breaking 39-31 loss to Viera.
Emans is definitely on the mind of Liberty Head Coach Brett Munroe. “When I was on the St. Cloud staff last year, I couldn’t believe he was only a sophomore,” Munroe said. “He is big and strong but also has breakaway speed. He presents a lot of problems to an opposing defense. It’s going to be important to get him on the ground on first contact and frankly we are going to need some long drives on offense to also limit their opportunities.”
Liberty picked up its second win of the season last week, beating first-year school Davenport, 42-0. Running back Karvelis Scott ran for 232 yards and four touchdowns; while quarterback Jeremiah Pierre-louis ran for 80 yards and threw two touchdowns to senior tight end Greg Vital in the win that Munroe labeled “our most complete game of the season.”
Although it is a non-district game, Harmony Head Coach Don Simon says it’s important for his team to get off to a good start in the second half of the season. “We stood toe-to-toe with Viera and lost a tough game,” Simon said. “But I told our team that we still can control our own destiny and get into the playoffs by winning the rest of our games and that starts Friday night against Liberty.”
Celebration’s outstanding running back Oneil Senatus is closing in on the 1000-yard rushing mark after gaining 127 yards against Olympia. He is averaging 187.4 yards rushing and more than 10 yards a carry this season as is already Celebration’s all-time rushing leader with a season and half to go.
The Storm, 3-2, will look for their fourth win of the year as they travel to Tohopekaliga (2-4), a 14-7 winner over Cypress Creek last week. In that game, Rashaud James had one touchdown and safety Thomas Wilson added a defensive score as the Tigers played their second consecutive game without head coach Jeff Higgins (Covid) and quarterback Kam Davis (injury). Both are expected back this week against Celebration.
“He (Senatus) is a terrific player,” Higgins said. “We are going to have to win first downs against them on both sides of the ball.”
A win by Celebration would match the 2019 Storm team for the most victories in a season since 2015, the first and only winning season (7-4) in Storm history. “We are in the first year of a total rebuild,” Celebration head coach Rich Pringle said. “We obviously want to win every game we play but we are also trying to build a culture for the future.”
In what could be described as the “Battle of Buddies,” St. Cloud (1-4) hosts Gateway (1-4) on Friday night. Bulldogs Head Coach Bryan Smart and Gateway Head Coach Marlin Roberts are close friends, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to beat each other in what is becoming a pretty good rivalry.
The Panthers and Bulldogs have split the last 10 games of the series, 5-5, although the average margin of victory has not been close (games have been decided by 20 or more points eight of last 10 games). “We’re friends,” Smart said. “But at the same time, we both need a win. We both have young teams that have battled through a lot of adversity this season. What it really means is someone is going to get their second win this week.”
The key for St. Cloud will be to get its offense in gear. In six games, the Bulldogs have scored just 15 points this season. In addition to graduating all 11 offensive starters from last year, St. Cloud has not had a full roster this season due to Covid, injuries and suspensions resulting from an incident during the Sebastian River game. More than half dozen starters are expected back this week.
Gateway is also expecting some players back this week with the potential return of running back Laquavion Pinellas (ankle injury) and offensive lineman Anthony Rodriguez (concussion protocol).
The other game involving county schools this week is Poinciana (0-5) traveling to Davenport. Head coach Randy Beeken hopes to get an offense on track that has been outscored 110-16 in its last three games. “Frankly we are not playing as well as we should be,” Beeken said. “We were outclassed last week against a team that had superior talent but the fact remains we are doing nothing to help ourselves. Davenport is a solid first-year program and has some good players. We have started to make some personnel changes but we also need to challenge ourselves to play better.”