By: J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola
After scoring on their first play from the scrimmage, the Osceola All-Stars offense went dormant for the next almost three quarters before a frantic rally came up just short in a 28-26 loss to the Lake County All-Stars in the first annual Cure Bowl All-Star Game.
The contest, played at Celebration High School, featured invited all-stars from Osceola County’s eight public schools against an all-star team from Lake County’s public schools. Harmony head coach Don Simon served as head coach.
‘It’s extremely difficult to get any type of consistency with guys that only practiced together for three days and it certainly was apparent with our offense. We simply could not get any consistency. That said, it was a pleasure to coach this kids this week. They are all-stars for a reason and are all leaders. They fought like crazy and got back into the game at the end.”
Osceola’s team, named the Warriors, jumped on top early. After their defense forced a quick three-and- out on Lakeland’s opening drive, Poinciana’s De’kwan Bradly hit Osceola High WR Terry Cruz on a 55-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage to take it a 6-0 lead.
Eustis QB Noel Rodriguez led the Lake County stars on a long 9-play, 63-yard touchdown drive that was capped on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Lake Minneola’s David Ramos to knot the score at 6-6 this 9:20 to go in the first. Mount Dora’s Dante Johnson-Turner extended the lead to 14-6 with a 4-yard touchdown run in the second.
A shanked punt would set Lake up deep inside Osceola territory early in the third quarter. Mount Dora quarterback Matt Butler hit Ramos on a 27-yard pass to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Gary to make it a 21-6 game.
Osceola would fight back, as Poinciana running back Davrell Cohn broke off several nice runs and Osceola’s David Buggs capped off a 64-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Poinciana’s Perry Garrett to cut the gap to 21-12.
After a defensive stop, any chance of an Osceola comeback appeared to end when they mishandled a snap and Lake recovered for the only turnover of the game. Rodriguez would then lead the Soldiers on an 8-play drive that ended on a 12-yard scoring pass to East Rivers’ Ex’zabier Francois to make it 28-12 with less than three minutes remaining.
But Osceola would rally.
Bradley would break off a 44-yard run on a scramble and would then find Perry in the right corner of the end zone for a 16-yard score. St. Cloud kicker Wyatt Castelucci would then execute a perfect on-sides kick that Osceola recovered on the 48. Bradley would then hit Poinciana’s Donald Cummings on 38-yard pass and Garrett would score his third touchdown of the game to cut the gap to 28-26.
Osceola’s last chance for victory ended when Lake recovered the ensuing onside kick and the game ended with a kneel-down one play later. Rodriguez would finish the game 11 for 14 for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Poinciana coach Randy Beeken, who served as an assistant to Simon, said he was proud of his seniors, who led the Eagles to an 8-2 record this year and the best season in Eagles history. Bradley finished the game five for nine for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Garrett caught four passes for 43 yards and three scores, Cummings grabbed one for 38 yards, Cohn led the Osceola team in rushing with 44 yards, and Gabriel Gonzalez and Jaden Swaby made several big stops on the defensive line.
“These seniors led the best group of kids we have ever had at Poinciana,” Beeken said. “By their performance, there is no question that they belonged in this game. More importantly, they set an example for what our younger players should strive to become.”
Simon added that it was a great week for both the players and the coaches. “Obviously several big names from our county did not participate because of other game commitments,” he said. “But I will say this, I think if you told any coach in the county that he could have these 40 guys at the beginning of the season, they would be excited about it. You can say it was an exhibition game that meant nothing, but these guys fought to the end and that says a lot about their character. It was also a great week for the coaches. We had most of the head coaches and many assistants helping out all week and we used it as a coaching clinic. I think we were all able to learn from each other this week.”
- Lake County Soliders 6 8 7 7 –28
- Osceola County Warriors 6 0 6 14 –26
- O: Terry Cruz (Osceola) 55 pass from De’kwan Bradley (Poinciana) — Kick failed
- L: David Ramos (Lake Minneola) 5 pass from Noel Rodriguez (Eustis) – Kick failed
- L: Dante Robinson-Turner (Mount Dora) 5 run – Javon Gary (Eustis) run
- L: Gary 1 run – Ryan Conner kick
- O: Perry Garrett (Poinciana) 10 pass from David Buggs (Osceola) – run failed
- L: Ex’zabier Francois (East River) 12 pass from Rodriguez – Conner kick
- O: Garrett 16 pass from Bradley – Wyat Castelucci (St. Cloud) kick
- O: Garrett 10 pass from Bradley – Castelucci kick