Coach Doug Nichols made that clear in practice this past week. To say his players got the hint is an understatement — they made a statement against Riverview in Friday’s Class 8A regional playoff quarterfinal.
The Kowboy defense had five sacks, forced two turnovers and held the Sharks to minus-23 yards rushing. The offense scored touchdowns on its first five drives and marched to a 38-21 rout of the Sharks (8-3).
“One down, four to go,” Nichols told his team afterwards, referring to the climb through the playoffs to the state championship game.
Osceola (9-1) moves onto next week’s regional semifinals at Dr. Phillips (8-3), who knocked off Ruskin Lennard (7-4), 28-7.
It wasn’t a perfect Osceola performance. Riverview gained 227 yards; 207 came on three plays, including an 85-yard connection from Stazion Gage to Kadeem Robinson on third-and-15 on the third play of the game that gave the Sharks a 7-0 lead.
But the Kowboys went right to work and dominated the rest of the first half, scoring 21 points over the next 11 minutes on 15 plays — all runs. Davon Wells (six yards), Ja’Randy Swint (11) and DeWayne McGee (26) scored on runs, with the Kowboy ‘D’ forcing three-and-outs in between.
“It was pretty resilient to come back after that long play at first and get back in it,” Nichols said. “It got them more fired up than they were, and you could see it. I love this group as a whole. We love coaching these guys; when it’s time to go to work, they put everything else on the outside.”
Osceola continued to pound away in the first half. After a bad Sharks snap on fourth down put them in business on Riverview’s 19 yard line, Wells hit McGee on a touchdown pass from that spot. Swint finished the next two drives with a 27-yard run and 40-yard catch from Wells on which he broke two gang tackles. By then it was 42-7 with three minutes left in the second quarter and, if that wasn’t enough, Dan Cooper picked up a fumble that set up Spencer Richards’ 42-yard field goal.
Expecting a running clock in the second half, Osceola made it’s only mistake on on the final play of the half. After holding Riverview to just 16 yards after that opening touchdown play, OHS was called for a personal foul on Tyriq Thornton’s 53-yard catch-and-run. After half the distance to the goal was marked, Gage hit Jordan Schell on a 6-yard TD toss to make it 45-14 at halftime.
Osceola didn’t score on its first drive out of the locker room, but Richards punted to the 1, which set up great field position when the Sharks punted themselves out of the end zone, and Wells’ return set the Kowboys up at the 18. Jamison Jones scored 3 plays later from the 14 to send the clock a-runnin’.
Joel Campbell added a two-yard TD run later. The Kowboys rushed for 255 yards, nearly eight yards per tote.
“I think our offensive line played a physical game. That’s who we are,” Nichols said.
Defensive end Dylan Ruiz had three of the Kowboys’ five sacks; the unit racked up five other tackles for loss.
The Osceola High School #Kowboys have moved on to the 2nd round of the playoffs in 8A and will head to Dr. Phillips next Friday night!