East Lake Eagles 2012, what could have been?

This year’s Eagles came into the season with one of the most highly touted and accomplished quarterbacks in Pinellas County History as well as a bevy of wide receivers and talent to boost his game to the next level. After going through the season with 2 losses on the field and looking somewhat impressive yet just not quite there yet in every other game, they reached the playoffs at a time when they were peaking and the stars appeared to have aligned. Unfortunately today we look at this 2012 team and say “What could have been,” as they squared off with the number 1 team in class 8A and for a half looked like the better team, but were unwound and undone in the 2nd half and even still missed opportunities which could have turned the game in their favor losing closer than the score indicates 31-21.

Dr. Phillips runs a very fast break offense to the likes of Oregon and the pace of that had the East Lake defense on its heel’s early on. On the 1st drive they went right down the field with precision and determination getting two 4th and short conversions but the Eagle defense stepped up at their own 10 yard line on another 4th and short to stop the Panthers. The Eagle offense was not to be contained early on as well. Pete Dinovo led his team down the field quick and fast with passes to his to 2 top receivers Artavis Scott and George Campbell. The offensive line kept the fantastic Dr. Phillips defensive line at bay as well and Pete eventually hit George Campbell for a 37 yard TD pass. After a 3 and out and another big pass to Tanner Harwood, Pete found his other favorite option in Scott for a 7 yard TD passes to start the shock and awe process pulling East Lake out to a 14-0 lead.

Dr Phillips being the program they are, were not ready to fold the tent though as they made several big conversion on their next drive and capitalized on an East Lake missed opportunity that could have changed the game. Dr Phillips was in position to score and an East Lake Linebacker stepped in front of a pass and could have taken it the distance but it fell out of his hands. Dr. Phillips ended up scoring on this drive. Scott got a big kickoff return next but Pete forced a pass that was intercepted in the red zone and Dr. Phillips capitalized again tying the score up using their phenomenal running game. Pete was not done either though as he gave his team a lead and confidence going into the half after a 9 yard connection with Dylan Renaker.

Things unfortunately came unglued in the 2nd half as the Panthers made adjustments that stymied and shut out the Eagle offense in the 2nd half. Even with that the Eagles had 3 dropped interceptions and two that certainly could have gone the distance and ended scoring drives for the Panthers. Pete finished with a great night throwing for 318 yards and 3TD’s but end the end it just wasn’t enough as the Panthers won 31-21.

The Eagles can hold their heads high in this loss even though I think they know this game was theirs for the taking but they played a good game and gave it their all. This was a season to be proud of indeed.

– Eric Clark