It was a big day for the Plant City Dolphins: four of five teams in the Superbowl, plenty of fans in attendance and boxes upon boxes of first-place trophies to play for.
The Mighty Mites and Varsity teams were able to grab that brass ring and win the whole thing, opening and closing the day with orange and teal-flooded trophy ceremonies. But, even though 50% of the Dolphins teams went home winners, all of the teams gave 100% effort.
The Mighty Mites played in the closest game of the day, picking up a 26-21 win over a feisty Brandon Lions team.
Derrick McBride and Ty’one Cooper gave the Dolphins a 14-0 lead with rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, but Brandon running back Cameron Battle made it a 14-8 game with a long run in the second quarter. But McBride tacked on an insurance score with 36 seconds to play, running in the end zone on a left-side sweep. Brandon then had a touchdown called back on an illegal block, and Battle’s last-minute, zig-zag scoring chance was derailed by a fumble as time expired.
With the score at 20-8, it was the Dolphins’ turn to have a touchdown called back. Another McBride run was taken away by penalty, and several more penalties handed Brandon the ball just after the fourth quarter began. Battle scored on an 80-yard run immediately after the Lions secured the turnover on downs, making it a 20-15 game.
McBride scored one more time, sweeping to the right on a 12-yard pickup, with 1:28 left to play. Brandon was able to answer with 23 seconds left, with another long run by Battle, but the Lions’ extra point attempt was no good. Plant City was able to let the clock run out.
This 35-7 win was East Bay’s right from the very beginning.
The first play from scrimmage saw the Bucs score on a 60-yard run. On the Dolphins’ first possession, East Bay forced and recovered a fumble. The Bucs scored a minute and a half later, around the 6:00 mark – also the sixth play of the game. They would score one more time in the quarter, picking up a rushing touchdown not long after getting the ball back from Plant City’s turnover on downs.
Plant City drove to East Bay’s red zone at the end of the quarter, but was stuffed near the goal line at the start of the second quarter. In the third quarter, East Bay picked up another touchdown to take a 28-0 lead. Try as they might, the Dolphins just couldn’t find an answer for East Bay’s defense until the fourth quarter.
Running back Eden Williams prevented the shutout with a 55-yard rushing touchdown, which came at the 7:13 mark in the final quarter. But East Bay took the ensuing kickoff to the house for another touchdown, and got an interception at the 3:38 mark that, unofficially, iced the game.
Compared to the Pinecrest boys, the Dolphins’ JV team was undersized at nearly every position.
It might have showed on the box score, too, as the Pilots got a 29-6 win.
Nobody scored until early in the second quarter, after Plant City turned the ball over on downs deep in its own territory. The great field position, coupled with the Pilots’ size, somehow didn’t matter: the Dolphins held steady, prevented Pinecrest from completing a fade in the end zone, and scored when Jabari Wilson broke off an 80-yard run at the 7:53 mark. Donte Woodard Jr. recovered the kickoff, and Plant City was suddenly looking good against the top JV squad in the league.
The second half was a completely different story, as Pinecrest ripped off 29 unanswered points – mostly rushing touchdowns by Hunter Cervantes, with one 35-yard passing touchdown in the fourth quarter to set the final score.
On the other hand, the Varsity team completely dominated Pinecrest in a 30-8 win.
It was a heck of a day for quarterback Tommy Johnson, who threw three touchdown passes in the first half to give his team a 16-8 lead. In fact, Johnson and the offense were so good at sustaining and succeeding at drives that the Dolphins were able to keep Pinecrest’s offense off the field until the 4:14 mark of the first quarter. The Pilots scored a short rushing touchdown at 9:49 in the second quarter, and wouldn’t come close again.
Johnson had to miss a few plays after getting a little dinged up, while lining up at wide receiver in the third quarter, and Plant City went quiet. But, when Johnson returned in the fourth, the Dolphins woke up again.
The QB ended up scoring one last touchdown on a three-yard keeper with 2:31 left in the season, and Plant City iced the game by recovering the ensuing kickoff.