Dan PearsonBy:  J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola

With undefeated Harmony enjoying a bye week, two huge games highlight Week 4 action for county schools.

The biggest local game takes place at Tohopekaliga, where the 2-0 Tigers will host 2-1 St. Cloud.   The Tigers, under first year head coach Anthony Paradiso, recorded their second consecutive shutout with a 48-0 win over Ambassador Christian Academy on Saturday afternoon.

Freshman quarterback Sabby Meassick had his second consecutive big game for the Tigers, completing 24 of 31 passes for 392 yards and seven touchdowns. Two of those touchdown passes went to Julian Nasco; while Churandy Duval also caught two touchdowns.   Overall, the Tigers have outscored its opposition by a 97-0 count through two games, but this week’s game with St. Cloud will represent a step up in competition for the Tigers.

St. Cloud (2-1) won its second game of the season with a 37-0 win over Liberty (0-3) in a game that went to a running clock midway through the third quarter.  “I thought we played an outstanding game given the wet field conditions,” Bulldogs coach Mike Short said.  “Liberty came out with a great game plan and limited our possessions in the first half.  We got a safety off a blocked punt midway through the second period and that sort of switched the momentum of game to our favor.”

Sophomore quarterback Logan King had a big game, completing eight of 12 for 112 yards and two touchdowns.  Sophomore Terrance Griffin rushed for 77 yards and a couple of scores; while senior linebacker Noah Carr recorded nine tackles, including two for loss, to spur the shutout.  Both St. Cloud and Tohopekaliga have running clock shutouts against Liberty this season, bringing up an intriguing early season district match-up.

“It’s going to be an interesting in that both teams like to play an up-tempo offense,” Short noted.  “But I am not so sure if that is the best way to attack them.  They are so good at playing fast, we may want to slow the game down a little.”

Paradiso views it a little differently.  “We try not to worry too much about what the other team tries to do,” he said.  “Our only goal will be to try to execute our game plan.”

Liberty, who got a 102-yard rushing game from sophomore Jaylin Vaughan, will look for its first victory of the season when they host Davenport (1-2) on Friday night

Coming off a bye week proceeded with a disappointing 28-27 home overtime loss to Seminole (3-0), Osceola jumps right back into the fire with a Friday night road game against Lakeland (2-0).  A program with multiple state championships on their resume, Lakeland is 2-0 this season with a 39-6 win over Winter Haven and a 42-6 win over Clearwater this season.

Not only is this a potential playoff match-up in the future but it is also a real-gut check for the Kowboys after giving up more than 400 yards to Seminole in its last game.

“I don’t think anyone around here was happy with the way we played against Seminole,” Coach Eric Pinellas said.  “Still, we were playing one of the best teams in the state and it came down to the fact that they made one more play than we did.  One of the things we are going to try to do against Lakeland this week is to get our passing game going. We need to get a little more balance on offense.  Defensively, we made some bad reads and got out of position against Seminole.”

On a night where the field was dry and fast, Poinciana (2-1) saw its offense sputter but saw its special teams and defense excel in a 34-14 win over LaBelle.  In that game, both the defense and special teams scored two touchdowns each – including an 88-yard kickoff return for TD by Donald Cummings, two touchdowns by Perry Garrett on a pick six and punt return, and a fumble return for touchdown by Jerry Raymond.

“We were able to move the ball a little between the 20s, but our offense just could not get into any sustained rhythm,” Eagles Coach Randy Beeken said. “It was a tight game at halftime but we were able to come up with the big plays to break the game open in the third period.”

The win sets up an important home game with Winter Garden Horizon on Friday.  The Hawks are 3-0 and have outscored its opposition 111-10 this year – including a 49-0 win over Colonial last week.  “Horizon is perhaps the most talented team on our schedule this year,” Beeken said.  

Celebration (0-3) will be looking for its first win of the season when they travel to Bradenton Lakewood Ranch (1-1) on Friday.  The Storm dropped a 38-7 decision on Friday to Haines City (2-0).   Oneil Senatus has 85 yards of total offense and scored Celebration’s lone touchdown on a sweep.

Coach Jeremy Palmer found some positives, including the defensive play of Foster Searcy and the overall play of his sophomore-dominated offensive line.  “We need to get our offense rolling and are pass defense needs to improve,” Palmer noted.  “But I am pleased with the effort our kids continue to show.”

Palmer added that this week’s opponent Lakewood Ranch mirrors his team.  “They are also playing a bunch of young players in key positions,” he said. “They also run a very similar offense to ours.”

Gateway (1-0) who had both its Week 2 game and subsequent make-up with Tohopekaliga cancelled by weather and then had a bye week, will have its hands full when it returns to the field for just the second time on Friday night when it hosts district foe Auburndale (1-0).     The Bloodhounds defeated Gateway, 47-7, last season.

WEEK 4 SCHEDULE (All Game Friday)

  • St. Cloud at Tohopekaliga
  • Celebration at Lakewood Ranch
  • Osceola at Lakeland
  • Auburndale at Gateway
  • Horizon at Poinciana
  • Davenport at Liberty
  • (Bye: Harmony)