In his heyday in the boxing ring, Mike Tyson had a legendary quote about being prepared to meet a heavyweight opponent: “Everyone has a plan … until they get punched in the mouth.”
In the bout that served as the District 8A-6 football championship, Osceola landed all the big blows early, staggered Lake Nona in the first half, built a lead and cruised to a 35-17 victory.
The Kowboys (8-1) concluded the regular season with the win Friday and, winners of their ninth consecutive district championship, have their bye week and can take two weeks to prepare for a home playoff game on Nov. 8.
“We could only do that with a long list of great players and great coaches,” said OHS Coach Doug Nichols.
One of those great players is senior running back DeWayne McGee, playing his last regular season game at Henry Ramsey Field. He scored touchdowns on receptions of 52 and 20 yards in the first quarter, a 75-yard run up the middle in the second quarter, and a 60-yard scamper in the third after the Kowboys defense recovered a fumble and ended Lake Nona’s first drive of the second half.
“It was an amazing night,” McGee said. “I wanted to make an impact in my last regular season game, and now we’re district champions again.”
While Lake Nona (6-3) quarterback Conner Johnson threw for over 400 yards, much of that and his two touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter after the Kowboys stomped to that 35-3 lead. The Lions marched into the red zone twice in the first quarter, but the Osceola defense turned them away when LNHS Coach Anthony Paradiso passed on fourth-down field goal attempts.
St. Cloud 48, Harmony 7: The Bulldogs delivered its first win in the Soldier City Classic since 2016 on Coach Bryan Smart’s birthday, while snapping a three-game winning streak in the process and keeping their playoff hopes alive.
It took until the second half for St. Cloud (6-3) to put this away. Only up 13-0 at the half, its scored three touchdowns in the first six minutes of the third quarter to turn Senior Night into a party.
On consecutive drives, quarterback Garhett King scored on a draw from four yards out, Craig Chapman scored from 69 yards out, and King hooked up with Romeo Medina on an 80-yard TD connection that made in 34-0 halfway through the third quarter. Medina and fellow senior Koron Perrin caught touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.
“The defense really kept us in it until the offense got it going in the second half,” Coach Smart said. “We’ve been waiting for an offensive breakout, and this is just what we needed. Now we feel like we can get in the playoffs if we win next week (at Lakeland Victory Christian), so we feel like we live another day.
The Brass Bugle returns to St. Cloud, but Harmony still leads the all-time series 8-7.
Harmony (2-7) broke up the shutout late in the fourth quarter when Keaghan Black hit Kenneth Torres on a two-yard TD pass. The Longhorns finish the season at home next week against Lake Brantley.
Liberty 26, Poinciana 13: The Chargers kept their perfect record all time against the Eagles intact, and also got their first win of the season in the Battle of the Boulevard.
Liberty (1-8) scored the final 20 points of the game, rallying from a 13-6 halftime deficit.
“The guys stuck in it, even when we were down and they kept plugging and in the big moments came up big,” said LHS Coach Brandon Pennington, who got his 10th career coaching win Friday.
Kynon Clemons caught a pair of touchdown passes, including an 80-yard from Dudley Mesilien on a receiver toss option play.
Liberty will try to end the year with a two-game win streak next week at Celebration; Poinciana (3-5) will play at Cocoa Beach.
Tohopekaliga 51, Celebration 8: The Tigers (5-4) clinched at least a .500 season in just their second year of existence and go for the winning season next week against Haines City. The Storm dropped to 3-6.
Auburndale 35, Gateway 8: The Panthers will try to pick up a win next week in Orlando against Olympia.