A battle between undefeated teams comes to the home of the Cougars on Friday night.
One week after Mother Nature didn’t feel like letting Durant open 2019 at home, the Cougars are finally able to get their first home game of the new season.
The sinkhole that opened up near the scoreboard on the north side of the field was fixed last week before the King game, but the Cougars waited until this week to play on it just in case. Now with a 1-0 record to start the season, Durant’s hoping to start a little hot streak with a win over Riverview at Cougar Path.
Those who made the trek from the Durant area to east Tampa to watch last week’s game at King were rewarded with an all-around solid performance from this young Durant team. The visitors dropped 42 points on the hosting Lions — 35 in the first half, setting up a running clock in the latter — and got a much-needed confidence boost from it. The flexbone offense churned out 261 yards and five touchdowns on 32 carries between 10 ball carriers. No one on defense had more than Josh Cannon’s seven tackles, but Durant did rack up eight tackles for loss and three sacks. Kicker Edgar Posadas Jr. found a rhythm and nailed all six of his extra point attempts, too.
It was a good start for a team working with an updated offense, a young roster and a new mindset promoting good vibes only. Now, Durant gets to test its might against a team that hasn’t had trouble putting numbers on the board.
Riverview hosted Blake last week and picked up a 37-26 win, led by a solid two-way performance by quarterback Stazion Gage. Gage completed nine of 18 pass attempts for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and was also the team’s top rusher with 155 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. The remaining Sharks credited with rushing attempts accounted for 132 yards on 16 touches. That works out to a respectable 8.25 yards per carry between Isaiah Doby, Cheyenne Greaves and David Haynes. Doby and Greaves also gained all but 25 of Riverview’s passing yards, and Greaves racked up 100 return yards on special teams.
The defense was plenty busy, too. Four Sharks recorded 10 or more total tackles and seven players finished with seven or more total tackles. Riverview’s defense produced just one sack but didn’t submit statistics for tackles for loss or quarterback hurries at press time. Blake did not submit any game stats at all by press time.
Durant would do well to have a spy on Riverview’s freshman quarterback as often as possible this Friday night, just in case. The Cougars had little trouble stopping King on the ground but the second team did give up yardage and big plays through the air in the second half when the Lions adjusted their game plan to throw the ball more. King’s best drive of last week’s game came at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth, when the Lions picked up three big first downs on passing plays and capped it off with an 18-yard completion into the end zone for six points. The Cougars likely won’t call nearly as many passing plays as Riverview will, but having backs Nate Rourk and Eli Reed averaging more than 10 yards per carry while leading the team in touches bodes well against a defense that just gave up 27 points to a team with a new quarterback picture.
OTHER AREA ACTION
Plant City at Tampa Bay Tech, 7:30 p.m.
The Raiders’ schedule doesn’t get any easier with this week’s business trip to Tampa Bay Tech. The Titans just hosted Chamberlain last week and pitched a 25-0 shutout against a Chiefs team coming off of an eight-win season in 2018. Tech may have lost offensive linchpin Treshaun Ward to Florida State University but still racked up 244 rushing yards and all three offensive touchdowns on the ground, thanks in large part to a big game from senior Osmanis Aguilera (17 carries, 144 yards, two touchdowns). Tech only led by a 6-0 score at the half, but scored 19 in the second half to put the game on ice.
Plant City, meanwhile, was busy making a statement of its own with a clutch 37-29 win at Jesuit. Quarterback Makenzie Kennedy had a career night (9-for-19 passing, 257 yards, four touchdowns, one pick). Zamir’ Knighten tore it up on the ground with 143 yards and a touchdown. Mario Williams picked up 169 yards and three touchdowns on four catches. The defense accounted for 11 tackles for loss and five sacks, with Antron Robinson’s 11 total tackles leading the way. That win went a long way toward opening people’s eyes to what’s going on at 1 Raider Place, and the Raiders hope to keep exceeding expectations on the road tomorrow night.
Strawberry Crest at King, 7:30 p.m.
Strawberry Crest didn’t submit stats for their win at Leto by press time, but here’s something that hasn’t been written in more than half a decade: the Chargers are now above .500. Crest was productive on the scoreboard against the Falcons, putting up points in each of the first three quarters. Like the Raiders against Jesuit, the Chargers’ defense thwarted any plans Leto had for a comeback in the second half, though the home team did get all six of its points on the scoreboard in the third quarter.
Crest has a favorable draw at King this Friday. As was mentioned earlier, King had no answer for Durant’s rushing attack and couldn’t get their own going against a motivated Cougars defense. The Chargers probably won’t run an entire offensive game plan around the triple option Friday night, if they even do experiment with it in some way, but they’ve found a way to get on the scoreboard all the same. It’s also worth mentioning that Crest has beaten King in each of the teams’ last two meetings (2018 and 2017) and allowed just six points each time. The last time Crest scored 20 or more points in a game happened to be against the Lions on Sept. 1, 2017, which ended with a 23-6 victory for the Chargers.