They walked off the field, two-by-two, in a row. Not one word was spoken between them. As they continued, the scoreboard flashed off, a group of white jerseys huddled in the distance with their helmets raised in victory formation. Still, not a word.
As they filed into the locker room to change and go on their way, a school bus rode by. Cheers loud and proud protruding out of open windows. The Tampa Bay Tech Titans were celebrating a playoff berth, the Steinbrenner Warriors were left to answer the question: What happened?
In the first half, the runs came easily, the yardage and scores piled up for the boys in blue. But mistakes halted what could have been a controlled game right from the beginning.
Two drives of 60+ yards to start the game filled the players with momentum, but two fumbles (one taken back for a touchdown) erased it all. This was nothing about not trying hard enough, they gave it their all and poured every ounce of heart and soul into this game. But the mistakes were too much.
Against a team that was two touchdown favorites coming in, mistakes like that cannot be made. Maybe it was doing too much when only little needed to be accomplished? Maybe it was just one of those nights, who knows? The bottom line is while the playoff push might be done, this journey isn’t over.
Big strides in 2011, they’re just not there yet
Barely two seasons of full-varsity football and the team is already a large spot on the area radar. With one of the best rushing attacks in the county, there is high hope for the future. To use an example, Sunlake (a Pasco County school just up the road from campus) ended Land O’ Lakes’ 14-year postseason run last night with a 21-10 lashing of the Gators. It took the Seahawks nearly four years to finally get past the “little brother” label and finally claim the area theirs. The Warriors need to have that same mentality. In 2009, they finished 2-8 which is expected from the teams they were forced to play (Jesuit, Robinson, Middleton). And then last year, even though injuries claimed the first three games, the team rallied to a third place finish in 2A-10 behind only Robinson and Jesuit.
This season the path was paved for a jump to number two or even number one in the newly drawn up Class 7A District 7. But it wasn’t their time.
Gaither showed their might a couple weeks ago and Tampa Bay Tech had their hands full for two quarters. It’s a start, a building block for the future of this team.
The halfbacks will mature (Kendall Pearcey entering senior year next year, Jake Carroll entering junior year, Shaheem Barthel entering junior year), the quarterbacks will mature (Curtis Fitch entering junior year, Logan Lepace entering senior year) and a host of new faces like Andres Bautista will make their number known too.
While the future cannot be determined by just two years and change, this team will not let anything get in their way. Nothing.
For now though, the silence echos louder than the cheers of a playoff berth. The silence may linger, but there is no doubt the cheers will one day fly our way.
Jeff Odom / Sports Editor