The Osceola Kowboys will play at home this Friday night after falling for the second time this season on the road, but it won’t be an easy task at they will host state-power Jones.  Meanwhile, Harmony, coming off a big win at home over Celebration, will travel to take on a strong Palm Bay team, and Tohopekaliga will look to remain undefeated when they travel to Winter Garden Friday night to play Foundation Academy.

Here is a look at this week’s upcoming games:

Jones at Osceola, 7 p.m. Friday

The list of things that have gone wrong for Osceola this season far exceeds the list of things that have gone right.  That trend continued in last week’s 31-6 setback to Sanford Seminole.  Playing without Taevion Swint (pre-season knee) and Elijah Mendez (season ending injury game 1), Osceola coach Eric Pinellas lost second string running back Jeff Sinophat who was forced from the game with a shoulder injury.  Backup Elijah Hixson is out with a broken hand and Zion Mathews – who scored Osceola’s lone touchdown against Seminole – left the game with severe cramping.  With no running back remaining, those duties fell to wide receiver Notorious Reynolds.

Several other players left the game with injuries and the Kowboys also had to compete without its starting kicker who was out with Covid.  “We’ve had a bad run on early season injuries, but I know one thing is for certain, no one is feeling sorry for us,” coach Eric Pinellas said.  “We are at home for the next five games, so hopefully can get a little healthier and turn it around.”

Swint could possibly return to action this week.  The record setting running back has been released by physicians to return to practice and will return after clearance from the Osceola High School Athletic Training Staff.

It’s been close to three decades since the Kowboys started 0-3.

Liberty at St. Cloud, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Austin Tindall Park

St. Cloud is hoping to finally get back on the field this weekend after officials at Austin Tindall Park declared the field unplayable last Friday against Pine Ridge.  St. Cloud is playing their home games at Austin Tindall while their new turf field is being installed.  “Just a frustrating day all the way around,” athletics director Bryan Smart said.  “We thought the game could have been played but we did not have the final say.”  The game will be tentatively made up on Tuesday, Oct. 17.    Head Coach Michael Short echoed the sentiments.  “It’s really tough to practice all week, especially around a hurricane and then not be able to play,” the veteran coach said. 

Liberty, meanwhile, did get their game in but struggled against Orlando Christian Prep in a 52-7 loss.  The Chargers dropped to 0-2 on the season, with Jeremiah Pierre scoring Liberty’s lone touchdown.  “As I said at the beginning of the year, we need to change the culture of the program.  Our kids are playing hard, but we need to keep preaching the idea of playing hard for four quarters and make them believe they can win,” Liberty coach Dee Hart said.

Tohopekliga (1-0)at Foundation Academy (2-0), 7 p.m., Friday

After a walkover win over Liberty, Tohopekaliga was looking for their first real test of the year when they were scheduled to host Ft. Meade on Friday night, but Hurricane Idalia and heavy rains on Friday forced the game to be cancelled.  Still the Tigers may get that first challenge this week as its hosts small-school power (1M) Foundation Academy (2-0) on Friday.   Foundation has outscored its two opponents this year by a 125-6 margin, beating Tenneroc 68-6 in its opener and knocking off Cocoa Beach, 57-0 last Friday.   

Harmony (1-1) at Palm Bay (1-1), 7 p.m., Friday

The Longhorns (1-1) were the only county team to come away with a win in Week 2 with a 41-0 dismantling of Celebration (0-2).  Jeremy Hilliard had a huge night, rushing for 177 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries; while Aiden Rapier had two scores and 35 yards on four carries.  Head coach Nick Lippert called it a “total team effort” praising his offense, defense and special teams.

Defensively, Mekhi Ealy recovered a fumble for a touchdown and linebacker Ian Bingham and safety Chase Adams had outstanding defensive performances.

“Considering our starting QB was serving a FHSAA suspension, everyone on offense did a great job,” Lippert said.  “Our defense was pretty stout and we played downhill for the entire contest.”

The Longhorns will face a stiffer test this week against Palm Bay.  Despite a 34-0 loss to Heritage last week, the Pirates will bring a 1-1 record into the game and have defeated the Longhorns in the last two seasons – including a 13-12 win last year.

“Palm Bay will present a tough challenge for us.  They are a solid club that plays tough defense.  At the end of the day, if we give 100 percent and avoid mistakes, we should have a chance to win the game.”

Gateway (0-1) at Ridgeview (0-2), 7:30 p.m., Friday  

Coming off their bye week, Gateway (0-1) will be on the road as they travel to Orange Park (FL) to meet Ridgeview (0-2).  The veteran coach said his team had a good week of practice during their off-week and said he hopes his team will be able to put up a competitive effort against Ridgeview, a 3-Suburban school.

Hardee (1-1) at Poinciana (0-1), 7 p.m., Friday

As with the Panthers, the Poinciana Eagles are coming off an early season “bye” week and will host Hardee County (Wauchula, FL) on Friday night.  Coach Randy Beeken reported the hurricane and weather disrupted several practices last week and his team did not get all the work in they wanted during the bye week.  Hardee brings a 1-1 record into the game after dropping a 35-12 decision to Frostproof last week.  “They are solid team with a storied history,” Beeken said of Wildcats.  “We certainly are not going to take them lightly.”

Celebration (0-2) at Titusville (2-0), Friday. 7 p.m.

A young Storm team was shutout in back-to-back games to open the season and will now face a solid Titusville team that bring a 2-0 record into the game after season opening wins over Melbourne and Yulee.

We’d like to thank this season’s community business partners: Orlando Health Sttarling Chevrolet Buick GMC in St. Cloud, Orlando Health St. Cloud Hospital, Osceola County Fair (KVLS), Land Title Professionals, and Kelvin Soto, Esq., Osceola Clerk of the Circuit Court & County Comptroller. We thank them all for joining us in supporting the Osceola County School District Athletics.