TARPON SPRINGS — Coming into Friday’s anticipated Class 7A District 9 undefeated match-up, East Lake had a scoring average of 38.7 points per game and Countryside was scoring 28.3 points per game, but in this contest the defenses would ruled most of the night with the Eagles edging the Cougars 10-8.
The Eagles defense limited Cougars’ senior running back Dante Satcher to 62 rushing yards on 22 carries, had four sacks, had a fumble recovery in East Lake territory, and would pull in two key interceptions. One of the interceptions came in East Lake’s end zone by senior safety Justin Strnad and the other was by junior linebacker Jake Hansen that set up senior Daniel Lacamera’s 42-yard field goal to give East Lake a 3-0 first quarter lead. Hansen also added a sack and a pass defense while senior athlete George Campbell playing limited time on the defensive side of the ball had a sack and a quarterback pressure. Senior defensive end Regis Steighner had a sack and multiple QB pressures.
Campbell also caught what would be the decisive score of the game which came with 1:08 left in second quarter, a 21-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jake Hudson just after the Cougars tied the score at 3-3 on a Martin Turowski 31-yard field goal. The play that set up this score was a 39-yard catch by senior tight end Trevor Okuniewski from Hudson. Campbell had three catches for 71 yards and the lone touchdown of the game while Hudson went 10-for-18 for 134 yards.
The Cougars would close the 10-3 halftime gap with a 38-yard field goal by Turowski in 3rd quarter and a safety in fourth quarter but a deep drive into East Lake’s side of the field late in the 4th would be stopped by the Eagles defense and aided by a personal foul penalty on the Cougars. Eagles would then turn to senior Dylan Renaker to run the clock out with 6 carries for 35 yards on game’s last possession.
Countryside’s defense was led by junior Kee Whetzel who had two sacks, two tackle-for-losses, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
Offensively, the Cougars’ senior wide receivers Chris Ryan had eight catches for 127 yards and Givanni Gonzalez had five catches for 64 yards. Junior Quarterback Trent Chmelik went 16-for-29 for 220 yards with two interceptions.
East Lake (7-0, 3-0) won its 22nd straight regular-season game and will travel next week to Pinellas Park (6-1, 3-0).
Countryside (6-1, 2-1) fell to third in the district behind the East Lake and Pinellas Park and will host Seminole (2-5, 0-3).