Following a great effort Saturday night at Tropical Stadium, the Killian Cougars have the District 16-8A race exactly the way they want it.
Topsy-turvy and up for grabs.
In a key district showdown with previously unbeaten South Dade, Killian’s defense came through with a huge effort, picking off South Dade quarterback Kahlil Render four times, including a “jump ball, up-for-grabs” toss into the end zone with 16 seconds left that Sheldrick Redwine outdueled Bucs receiver Tyre’ Brady for to seal the victory.
Killian’s win leaves the district in a four-way tie for first, sharing a 2-1 mark with the Bucs, Southridge and Coral Reef. The Cougars take on Southridge next week, while South Dade squares off against Coral Reef.
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Killian (4-4, 2-1), which struggled mightily at the beginning of the season before getting healthy players back, can win the district title with a victory and a Coral Reef loss.
The Bucs (7-1, 2-1), ranked eighth in the Herald’s South Florida poll, can still win it with a victory over Coral Reef and a Killian loss to Southridge.
“No doubt about it, our kids played hard and really wanted it bad [Saturday night]; they were hungry,” Killian coach Corey Johnson said. “They went out there and believed, and when you have a team that believes, they’re hard to beat.”
Following a 72-yard touchdown run by Jordan Herrera with 8:12 left in the game, the Cougars, with their defense stifling the Bucs offense most of the night, had a seemingly comfortable 21-6 lead.
But Render finally found a little groove and took his team on a quick five-play, 72-yard drive that ate up just over a minute. The payoff came in spectacular fashion when Render fired a bullet to the end zone on a slant pattern that C.J. Worton could not handle. But when the ball deflected off Worton’s hands, Khevani Francois was right there in the back of the end zone to bring it in and tap dance his toes just inside the end line.
The Bucs would get it back twice more. The first possession made it to the Killian 25. But a penalty and and a sack pushed the Bucs back, and they turned it over on downs with 3:07 left.
After burning their timeouts and holding, they got it back on their 20 with 1:49 to go. Render then hit big passes to Worton, Francois and Johnnie Hankins to put his team at the Cougar 34 with 22 seconds left.
That’s when Render launched his high-fly pass to the corner of the end zone to Bray, but Redwine outdueled him for the ball to seal the win.
“[Brady’s] big and physical just like me, so it was a matter of who wanted it more,” Redwine said. “All night our defense played hard and really got it done. We feel like we’re ready to take the district now.”