Southridge didn’t want to waste any time squashing Palmetto’s hopes Friday night.
First there was a little bit of pregame verbal sparring.
Later, the Spartans put together a couple of quick strikes on the scoreboard, and took control on their way to a 20-0 shutout of the Panthers on their home field.
The Spartans (6-2, 4-0 in District 16-8A) secured their first district championship since 2011 and did not allow a point against any of its four district opponents.
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Palmetto (6-1, 2-1) entered the game with a chance to win its first district title since 1999 with a victory.
The Panthers will need to beat rival Killian next week in its annual “Big Cat Trophy” rivalry game in order to secure a playoff berth. A loss would drop Palmetto into a three-way district tiebreaker for the runner-up playoff berth with Killian and South Dade.
“That was crucial,” Southridge coach Billy Rolle said. “For the last three games we’ve been shutting teams out and that’s been the winning formula for us.”
Southridge posted its fourth consecutive shutout and fifth of the season.
Southridge’s defense gave up only 19 total yards through the first
three quarters Friday.
The Spartans also recorded a safety on a high long snap that went over
Palmetto punter Ernesto Garciga’s head late in the third quarter.
The Spartans offense, led by running back Bentavious Thompson, set the tone with a pair of first quarter touchdowns.
Thompson finished with 153 yards on 19 carries.
“You have to be able to run and stop the run and that’s always been our philosophy,” Rolle said. “I don’t care what team it is if you run for over 100 yards you have a good chance to win.”
Michael Cox ran in the first score from 6 yards out and later found Rodney Scott for a 33-yard touchdown strike.
Cox connected with Mark Pope just before halftime for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Palmetto finally put together a sustained drive early in the fourth quarter on a couple of 20-plus yard passes from quarterback Hugh Lowson to Ivan Thomas.
Trey Flowers’ hard running pushed Palmetto into the red zone.
But Southridge’s defense held the Panthers on fourth down at its 5-yard line to end any chance of a comeback.