LUTZ- Despite the emotion of senior night being present in the stadium and on the field, the Steinbrenner Warriors (3-6) fell to the Jefferson Dragons (6-4) 33-19 in the final game of the season.
“Tonight was all about our seniors,” said head coach Andres Perez-Reinaldo. ” To get to see those kids go out there and get to show off what they have done in the past three or four years. It is just really a special night for them.”
The Warriors started from behind as a turnover on downs led to a 14 yard touchdown pass by Jefferson quarterback Cade Weldon which led to the Warriors being down 7-0 early on. The Warriors struck back with a quick 65 yard drive capitalized by a 12 yard touchdown run by junior running back Jayquese Dantley. But a blocked extra point made the Warriors trail 7-6 with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. Later in the quarter, the Warriors failed to convert on fourth down once again which led to a 51 yard touchdown pass by Weldon to give the Dragons a 14-6 lead. After a punt by the Warriors, the Dragons went on a nine minute drive leading to a touchdown by running back Salron Montgomery giving the Dragons a 20-6 lead. The Warriors fought back with a pass interference penalty giving the Warriors the ball in the red zone late in the second quarter. The Warriors, as time expired attempted to cross the goal line with a rush by senior quarterback Quentin Poteralski which fell short leaving the Warriors empty handed going into the locker room.
As the second half went on, Jefferson began to pull away picking up a touchdown late in the third giving Jefferson a 27-6 lead. After a critical stop at the end of the third by the Steinbrenner defense, Poteralski made a 17 yard pass to junior wide receiver Justin Moffatt and then a 12 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Cody Burgess cutting the score to 27-12. Poteralski had 150 all purpose yards on the night. Despite a late push by the Warriors with a rushing touchdown by Poteralski, it was not enough as the luck was not in the favor of the Warriors in their last game.
“We have learned how to create a family with the people around you,” said Burgess. “We learned to just keep competing for your family no matter what.”
The Warriors played with an extra bit of power which led to many plays that changed the momentum late in the game including a huge hit by senior defensive back Trent Shaw which forced a fumble in the third quarter. Although the play was called back, it became the game changer for the Warriors giving them the extra push they needed.
“The effort was what got us through this game,” said Perez. “The thought that this is the final game really set up for big plays all throughout the night.”
The Warriors finish off the season with a 3-6 record and a 2-3 division record. The 3-6 record adding up to nine games results from the early game in the Steinbrenner season where a game against Plant City was called at the half due to lightning. It did not count and would not be replayed since it was a non district and non conference event.
Written by Dillon Schmidt/Staff Writer