George Steinbrenner is coming to town!
No, not the man who once owned the New York Yankees and served as a lightning rod for Major League Baseball; he passed away in 2010. But the school named for him in Lutz, a northern suburb of Tampa, is coming to Kissimmee to take on Osceola in the Class 8A Region 2 championship game on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Because the Warriors defeated region No. 1 seed Sarasota Riverview, 27-24, last Friday, this game is in Kissimmee; Osceola (11-1) was the No. 3 seed in the region and Steinbrenner (12-1), winners of nine games in a row to start 2019 before losing the finale to Chamberlain after locking up the District 8 title, was No. 4.
If the Yankees were the Bronx Bombers, Steinbrenner has a Lutz bomber. Senior quarterback Haden Carlson (6-3, 200 pounds) runs the Warriors’ spread offense to a ‘T’. He hit the 2,000-yard mark passing for the season last week against Riverview with a 21-for-42, 292-yard, two-touchdown effort. Thirty of his 145 completions on the year went for touchdowns.
The FIU commit’s leading targets are Aiden Bitter (47 receptions, 706 yards, 13 TDs), an Iowa State commit, and Dan Patterson (47-650-9). Running back Deon Silas, the lone junior of those mentioned, rushed for 957 yards and 16 touchdowns on the year, and was the No. 3 receiver (20-370-2). He’s also scored five times on kickoff or punt returns.
Looking for recent comparisons offensively? Steinbrenner is as multiple on offense as Dr. Phillips, while passing the ball like Lake Nona.
Defensively the Warriors average over 10 tackles for loss per game, meaning Osceola’s run attack will have to keep humming over multiple plays and drives, much like it did on its final three drives of the 20-7 win at Dr. Phillips last week. The Kowboys kept the ball for over 20 minutes on those drives, which resulted in two field goals and a grinding of the last 7:44 of the game, when the run attack generated four first downs.
Big thanks to our Community Business Partners for the game: Kissimmee Utility Authority, Central Florida Building Corporation, Mike Fisher, Democrat candidate for Osceola County Sheriff, Big John’s Rockin’ Barbecue, and St. Cloud Medical Group. We thank our partners for joining us in supporting Osceola County School District Athletics, students, families, and all that make it all possible each week.
A defensive game like last week won’t hurt, either. Defensive end Dylan Ruiz has four sacks in the playoff and recovered a fumble against Dr. Phillip that set up a short field and the offense’s only touchdown drive. Being ball-hawks in the secondary, like Jeremiah Wilson of the 95-yard interception return that made it s 17-7 game, will help, although Carlson has only thrown four interceptions on the year.
But Osceola QB Davon Wells, and his backfield mate Blake Birchler, had thrown only one pick in 100 attempts this year, and they and running backs Ja’Randy Swint (118 carries, 918 yards, 12 TDs) and DeWayne McGee (87-814-9) have combined for 2,376 yards and 27 rushing scores — not bad for an entire backfield, which also includes the 875 yards and nine touchdowns of sophomores Jamison Jones and Roshaun Dudley.
It’s a matchup of two teams who do different things offensively — but do them really, really, really well, and they will be on display Friday at Henry Ramsey Field for all to watch. Positively Osceola will have updates on its Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PositivelyOsceola/) and Instagram (@postivelyosceola) pages all night.
Friday’s winner gets the winner of Sanford Seminole and Apopka in next week’s Class 8A state semifinals.