Clearwater Central Catholic at Clearwater, (7:30pm Kickoff)
05/15 (Clearwater 28, Clearwater Central Catholic 23)
Last seasons’ records:
Clearwater Central Catholic (12-1) 3A-5 Champions, Class 3A Region 3 Champions, State Semifinalists
Clearwater (8-3) 6A-9 Champions
If this were the regular season, this game would have the world spinning on its’ axis leading up to it with all of the hype regardless of it being a non-district game featuring two teams three classes apart in the system. Well, this is far from the fall, but it’s a game that deserves quite a bit of attention even if the records will still technically be 0-0 when the lights are shut off.
Clearwater’s Adarius Lemons ran roughshod in this contest last season going for 200+ on just seventeen carries with three touchdowns to his credit in the victory. The Tornadoes’ and their summer were very productive in their passing leagues and Clearwater found themselves later on in 2015 as district champions for the first time since 2003. Head Coach Don Mesick is entering second season at the school, after having the “interim” tag removed from his title after the spring season and has an 8-3 record at the helm. The Tornadoes season ended against Port Charlotte, but the tough lessons about finishing what you’ve started were learned and have Clearwater hungrier than ever.
CCC is in a “transition” season–but not in the normal sense where countless playmakers need to be replaced due to graduation. Far from it in fact. The Marauders welcome Chris Harvey to lead the way following the retirement of legendary Head Coach John Davis. CCC is coming off their first undefeated season in school history and have what seems to be 99.9-percent of that roster returning for what should be another record-setting season. Although the Marauders were upended in the state semis, the expectations of semifinals at the very least–and a state championship or bust mentality–are well in-place.
ON OFFENSE: Clearwater
The Tornadoes are replacing full-time starter Garrison Bryant due to graduation. Bryant, who threw for 1,100+ yards last season has signed to play baseball at North Florida. Insert Austin Day–who completed 31-of-48 passes last season for 516 yards along with six touchdowns and just one interception. Mesick loves the moxie this young man possesses and by all accounts Clearwater shouldn’t skip a beat with their man under center. As mentioned, their backfield is electric with Lemons–a recent North Carolina verbal commit–but they’ve also got the aforementioned Jacquez Jones–a recent Tennessee verbal pledge–to present a little lightning to Lemons’ thunder. Jones is obviously a threat every time he touches the ball averaging nearly 20 yards-per-reception last season. The Tornadoes are anchored on their offensive line by Zach Hauschild, who stands at 6-feet, 6-inches and 300-hundred pounds.
ON OFFENSE: Clearwater Central Catholic
Quarterback Jakob Parks was in his infancy as a starter in this contest last season and still managed to throw for 100+ yards and a touchdown. Well, the training wheels came flying off in a big way once the season was finished in November. Parks finished with 2,056 yards and a fantastic ratio of 20 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions. CCC’s three-headed monster in the backfield that combined for 2,238 yards and 32 touchdowns all return. Speaking of 2018 Jervon Newton (952yds-12td’s), and 2017’s CJ Cotman (665yds-12td’s) and Rashaad Stewart (621yds-8td’s). Parks also gets his leading WR’s back. The aforementioned Cotman led in yardage (563), while 2018’s Deandre Ferguson and Amari Burney will be back. Burney, who is also a major safety prospect–led CCC in touchdowns with seven in 2015.
ON DEFENSE: Clearwater
No Kane Taylor for the Tornadoes this evening, but they’ve got a star-in-the-making in DE Tramar Reece and extremely talented DB’s in the form of twins Jaquez and Jatavious Byrd. Linebacker Garet Chisholm led the Tornadoes in sacks last season with ten is back. Jaquez Byrd led the unit in interceptions with five. Clearwater’s Defense gave up just 154 points in 11 games with 45 of those points coming in one game vs. East Lake. Although they surrendered 23 points in this contest and won the spring contest, Clearwater was 0-2 in contests they gave up more than 3 TD’s.
ON DEFENSE: Clearwater Central Catholic
Being just a 3A school usually means your playmakers get it done on both sides of the ball, and CCC is no exception. We mentioned Cotman, Newton and Burney’s offensive numbers, but they’ve got some impressive defensive stats as well. Cotman finished with 69 tackles and 3 interceptions last season, while Burney finished with 91 tackles and two interceptions. It was Newton wholes the team with five interceptions and contributing with 58 tackles. Newton’s twin brother Jerquan is a special player in his own right chipping in with 93 tackles and 8 sacks, while their linebacking tandem of Deandre Fitzhenley and Tyler McDonald combined for 225 tackles last season.
WHAT WE EXPECT:
A really good game regardless of what the calendar says. In other words, welcome to the world of insanely high expectations. When teams of this caliber get together, the excuses tend to fall on deaf ears. Although Clearwater has instant offense, make no mistake about it–they’re a run-oriented offense. Last season, Clearwater’s offensive rushing numbers were approaching 3:1 status, so they’ll be trying to establish the ground game without question. For CCC, we expect them to do much of the same and pick-and-choose their spots to make splash plays down the field. Defensively, we expect both teams to produce some bone-jarring hits and even make life difficult for both QB’s whether it’s pass rush or solid play in the secondary. Ironically, we wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see points come at premium even with the firepower on the offensive side of the ball, unless one squad is forced to play catch-up.
Clearwater wins IF:
They control the line of scrimmage–preferably their offensive line control the defensive line opening up holes for Lemons and giving Day clear passing lanes to throw. Although controlling the defensive line of scrimmage is just as important as a comfortable Jakob Parks might make things more than a little stressful for Clearwater’s Secondary. Just as it is important for CCC to be sharp in this area, games like these are where your special teams win games.
CCC wins IF:
Sounds like an echo in here, but they win if they control the trenches–and if their spring conditioning drills serve them well. This team is loaded, but going against a team as deep as Clearwater presents a special set of challenges to a roster the size of CCC’s because as it’s been well-documented already, their best playmakers will be on the field A LOT this evening.