A big test for the Harmony Longhorns (2-0) and two games in four days will be on tap for Tohopekaliga (1-0) as Osceola County schools enter Week 3 of the high school football season.
“This is going to be big test for this team,” Harmony head coach Don Simon says about Friday’s 7 p.m. home game against Melbourne’s Palm Bay (2-0). “They are a big team loaded with athletes on both sides of the ball. Although it is not a district game, this is one of those contests we pointed at in the beginning of the year as a contest could go either way.”
Palm Bay has outscored its opposition 62-22 in outplaying both Bayside (41-14) and Haggerty (21-8) this season. The Pirates and Longhorns have developed a good rivalry of late, with Palm Bay winning 20-16 last year and the Longhorns taking a 15-14 decision a year earlier.
Harmony is off to a solid start, remaining undefeated with a 36-0 running clock road win over Celebration last week. Senior running back Tyler Emans posted a second straight 100-yard rushing game, gaining 177 yards and scoring twice in the win. Cooper Richards added one score and totaled 100 all-purpose yards in the game; while Aiden Parks was seven of 11 for 100 yards and two touchdowns—including a 12-yard strike to senior tight end Reid Fitzgerald to open the scoring.
Defensively, Harmony came up big as its first team defense held Celebration’s Oniel Senatus to just a couple of rushing yards. Sophomore Dalton Phelan led the way with 10 tackles. The Storm, 0-2, will attempt to get on the winning track when they travel to Haines City (1-0) on Friday.
If Tohopekaliga is to improve to 3-0, they will have to win twice in four days. The Tigers Friday home game with Gateway (1-0) was postponed because of unplayable field conditions and moved to Austin Tindall Park with a 7 p.m. kick on Tuesday (Positively Osceola will have complete game coverage on Wednesday). On Friday, the Tigers will host Winter Haven’s Ambassadors Christian Academy.
“To be honest, getting ready to play two games in four days is probably harder on the coaches than the players,” Tohopekaliga coach Anthony Paradiso said. “The players are resilient and would rather play a game then practice. We will be ready to go.”
After the make-up game with Tohopekaliga, Gateway will have its bye week before hosting Auburndale on Sept. 16. Osceola (1-1) is also idle after it’s thrilling but disappointing 28-27 overtime loss to Seminole – the Orlando Sentinel’s top ranked team in the region.
Poinciana will attempt to get to 2-1 this week when they host Labelle (0-1), a school from the Ft. Myers area. The Eagles made school history with a 50-0 win over Discovery last Thursday. The win was just the second time in the school’s 22-year history that they scored 50 or more points and also set a school record for the largest margin of victory. It was also just the third time in Eagles history they recorded a shutout.
Quarterback De’kwan Bradley completed 11 of 12 passes for 215 yards and four touchdowns in the win. He also ran for two more scores. A pair of transfers from Osceola High — receivers Donald Cummings and Perry Garrett – led the way with Cummings catching four passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns and Garrett nabbing two for 28 and a score. Sophomore Wil Nezius had a big night with 83 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“This was a real confidence builder for our team,” Eagles coach Randy Beeken said. “We were a little shaky in the season opening loss to Parrish but we played a complete game last week.”
Liberty (0-2) will host St. Cloud (1-1) in the other game involving Osceola County teams. St. Cloud will be the favorites after evening its record on Friday with a 47-7 road win over Pine Ridge. Mike Short’s team showed significant improvement in that game as sophomore quarterback Logan King threw three touchdown passes and running backs TJ Griffin and Owen Conner scored three rushing touchdowns and gained more than 200 yards on the ground.
Its defense forced five turnovers and allowed just one score after giving up 54 points a week earlier to Central Florida Christian Academy. “I always felt a team will make their most improvement between Week 1 and Week 2 and that certainly was the case for us,” Short said. “I really think losing our Kickoff Classic exhibition game to weather really hurt our preparations for our opener (a loss to Central Florida Christian Academy). Still, I was pleased with Friday’s victory; we played well in three phases of the game.”
Liberty was left searching for answers as Mari Crooms fired three touchdown passes and Tay Welch and Delonte Williams ran for two each in Eau Gallie’s 55-0 win over the Chargers. Liberty has now been outscored 104-0 in two games.
Week 3 Schedule
- Gateway vs. Tohopekaliga (at Austin Tindall), 7 p.m.
- St. Cloud at Liberty, 7 p.m.
- Palm Bay (Melbourne) at Harmony, 7 p.m.
- Celebration at Haines City, 7 p.m.
- Labelle at Poinciana, 7 p.m.
- Ambassador Christian (Winter Haven) at Tohopekaliga, 11 a.m.