In theory, Friday night was an important must-win game for Osceola.  

The only path the Kowboys had to the playoffs was to win the 4S District title and Osceola (1-5, 1-0) absolutely needed to beat Celebration (1-5, 0-1) in order to set up a showdown with Tohopekaliga (5-2, 2-0) for the district crown in two weeks.

The Kowboys dominated all three phases of the game and dominated Celebration 56-0.

The statistics tell the story.

Osceola’s defense forced three turnovers and allowed a negative 13 yards of total offense in the game and scored a touchdown on a pick six.  Celebration managed just three first downs in the game – all coming on Osceola penalties.   

Offensively, the Kowboys scored quickly and at will posting seven touchdowns on seven possessions, gaining 273 yards on just 15 offensive plays (averaging 18 yards per play).  They also dominated on special teams, gaining outstanding field position by forcing several short punts and adding close to 100 yards on punt returns.

“This game was what it was and will not watch film on it.  Our goal was to get some work in, stay healthy and not play down to the competition and we accomplished all of that,” Coach Eric Pinellas said.  “Obviously we need to win the game at Toho in a couple of weeks to get to the playoffs, but we are not even remotely worried about that game right now. Our full attention this week will be on Daytona Beach Mainland.”

Mainland went to 7-0 this week with a 65-0 win over Deltona.  They are the #1 ranked team in Class 3S but also the number two ranked team in the state across all classifications.  Mainland, who lost the 3S State Championship game to Lake Wales last year, had tried to get out of its contract to play Osceola just weeks before the scheduled game last year – a 33-6 Osceola win.

“They had a make-up district game they had to play and they didn’t want to play twice in one week and they wanted to drop us,” Pinellas said.  “We had already lost one game to storms and told them that most teams in the state were in the same position of having to play twice in one week, including us.  I just find it funny that they tried to get out of the contract last year and then called us this week to make sure we were going to honor the contract.  I know they are looking for revenge, and that’s fine, but we’re looking forward to playing them.  Osceola is not the same team that went 0-5 at the beginning of this season and we are healthy for the first time this season.  With their ranking, this is a great opportunity for us and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

The contest will be played Thursday night.

FrIday’s Storm game was all Osceola from the beginning.  

The Kowboys grabbed a 7-0 lead on the third play of the game when Nathaniel Barnett intercepted Landon Yaw and raced 20 yards for a touchdown.  An 18-yard punt return set Osceola up at the Celebration 38 on its second possession and Taevion Swint caught a swing pass from Camren West and raced into the end zone for a 14-0 lead.

Swint would make it 21-0 on Osceola’s next possession – again on a one-play drive—as Notorious Reynolds set up Swint’s 25-yard touchdown run with a long punt return.  The score ended Swint’s night with two touches and two scores.

Even with their biggest offensive threat on the bench, the Kowboys offense did not miss a beat.  Two more interceptions and another punt return led to three more Osceola touchdowns as the Kowboys built a 42-0 lead at the half.  

Those scores came on drives of just four, one and one plays.  West would toss touchdown passes to Reynolds and freshman Zavon Golden and Zion Mathews would add a touchdown on a 15-yard run.

By agreement of both coaches, the game went to a running clock with six minutes to go in the second quarter.  With a different of more than 35 points, the entire second half was played under a running clock under FHSAA rules.

Even the fast moving clock could not stop Osceola as the team score touchdowns on both second half possessions.  Alijah Jenkins hauled in a 51-yard pass and then caught a 6-yard scoring pass on the next play to make it 49-0 before Isaiah Brutus broke several tackles on a short screen pass and raced 38 yards for another score on Osceola’s final possession of the game.

With so many subs playing, no players piled up huge stats but West was nine for nine passing for 155 yards and a career-high five touchdowns.

About the only negatives for the Kowboys came as they were penalized 14 times for 130 yards and this did lose a fumble a punt return in the second half – after a 40-yard return.

“The most important thing coming out of this game is that we stayed healthy.” Pinellas added. “Everybody that dressed played tonight and we got quality reps for a lot of our younger players.”

As for Celebration, Coach Jeremy Palmer said that although the flu bug hit his team hard this week and he had to leave six regulars at home with illness, it has nothing to do with the outcome. “No excuses.  We are a young, inexperienced team and we ran into a bigger, faster, deeper team.  The result was the result.  On the bright side, we were playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores today and they weren’t intimidated and played hard to the end.”

The Storm, now 1-6, have a non-district road game next week with Flagler Palm Coast (2-4).