The Cougars will host Newsome tonight in an attempt to finish the regular season with a perfect record.
The Durant Cougars are in great shape heading into their district tournament, but there is one more thing they can do that would make this season, one of the best in recent years, even more special.
With a win tonight, Durant would finish its regular season with a 9-0 record and enter the playoffs with as much momentum as anyone in Hillsborough County.
The Cougars have been excellent on both sides of the ball, outscoring opponents 190-33, and thus far only Wharton (5-4) has been able to finish a game within one score of Durant (the Cougars fended off a late Wildcats rally to win, 20-18, on March 11).
Though the offense started April with the team’s two lowest-scoring games of the season — putting up 13 points against Bloomingdale on April 1 and Spoto on April 5 — it returned to form April 8 with a 26-6 win over Plant City in the regular-season district play finale. The Raiders held a 6-0 lead over the Cougars after one quarter, but Durant found its rhythm and pulled away with 14 points in the second quarter and 12 in the fourth. Quarterbacks Morgan Brill and Maggie Lauber combined to complete 17 of 28 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns (two of which were completions to each other). Alexis Swantek had a team-high 45 receiving yards and the other receiving touchdown in that game, and the fourth score came on a run by Ashanti Quiambao.
Brill, the team’s primary quarterback, has completed 72 percent of her pass attempts for 1,212 yards (173.1 per game) and 13 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Lauber has completed 72 percent of her pass attempts for 303 yards and three touchdowns against one interception. Six different Cougars have double-digit catch totals and the quarterbacks have had no problem sharing the wealth. Casey Lane leads the team with 45 catches and has 312 receiving yards. Lauber leads the team with 324 receiving yards and has three touchdowns. Brooklyn Kash has a team-high five touchdown catches with 245 yards to her name. Behind her in scoring is Hannah Kittrell with four touchdowns and 296 yards.
On the ground, Lauber’s 34 touches, 275 yards (34.4 per game) and six touchdowns are all team-high totals. Right behind her is Quiambao with 207 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
The bread and butter of this defense, which shut out half of the team’s opponents thus far, is snagging interceptions. The Cougars have combined for a total of 26 interceptions through eight games. Six different players have recorded at least one pick and Kash has been money with 10 on the season. Behind her with five each are Kittrell and Lauber, whom you may as well consider the team’s Swiss Army knife at this point. It helps that Quiambao’s speed up front has forced many opposing quarterbacks to either throw passes they’d like to have back or lose yards getting sacked (she has eight through eight games played).
But tonight’s matchup should be one of the toughest tests the Cougars have faced all season. Newsome (13-1) heads into this contest at Cougar Path averaging 31.85 points per game (versus Durant’s average of 23.75 points per) with no losses on the road. The Wolves have looked strong in regular-season and tournament play all spring, though three of their last four games have been decided by one score and the team is coming off of a 22-18 loss to undefeated powerhouse Robinson at Newsome on April 9. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.