By Ken Jackson
Years from now, people will look at the score of Tohopekaliga’s first-ever playoff game and not even think of the circumstances.
The Tigers scored a 28-0 win in their first-ever playoff game Friday over Winter Springs. With that result, Tohopekaliga (5-3) will host Wekiva next week in a Class 7A regional semifinal.
Nevermind that every FHSAA school that committed to a full 2020 COVID-19 laden season would make the playoffs, and nevermind that Winter Springs entered the playoffs at 0-7. This was an 8-0 game at halftime as the first two quarters were marred by turnovers caused by a wet football and plenty of penalties.
“We have to play better for four quarters to be consistent, and I think being in the playoffs for the first times got into the kids’ heads early on,” THS Coach Marc Deas said. “It was a much better second half.”
Quarterback Tyler Wesley ran for three touchdowns, and Stevenson Sinophat ran 16 times for 151 yards and another score, a 7-yarder on the first drive of the second half. Toho swapped its shotgun spread offense on that drive for two tight end, but Wesley back under center and ran behind a solid offensive line.
Not to be outdone, the Tigers defense only let the Bears reach the red zone once, thanks to a few big plays. Edmundo Maldonado recovered a fumble and added a sack, and Sir Giles intercepted a pass that would have been a pick-6 if not for a penalty flag on the return. Toho broke up seven Winter Springs passes.