Interceptions seal Palmetto's victory over South Dade
One will have to forgive Palmetto cornerback Corey Collier for being a little nervous when being interviewed after his game on Friday night.
“I’m sorry, I’m just a little nervous, I’ve never done this before,” said Collier.
And for good reason. Corey Collier is only in ninth grade and had never been interviewed before.
But he played like a senior on Friday night as he picked off South Dade quarterback Torey Morrison twice and then, with his defense looking to seal the game, did so by breaking up a fourth down pass with 2:58 left to seal Palmetto’s 17-7 win over the Bucs in a key District 16-8A showdown at Harris Field.
Even though both teams are likely to make the postseason anyway, it was still important because it left the Panthers 2-1 in the district and now tied with South Dade and with the Bucs squaring off against 3-0 Southridge next week at Harris Field, a South Dade win would leave the three teams in a three way tie for first place in the district. With the new playoff points system, Palmetto would finish first in that scenario.
But none of that would’ve mattered had the Panthers not found a way to come out on top and did so thanks to Collier’s big night along with the rest of the defense which picked off a total of four passes including a pick-six 65 yard touchdown return by Shumar Munroe in the first quarter staking his team to an early 7-0 lead.
“Just a matter of execution out there I guess,” said Collier who now has six interceptions on the season. “I have to give most of the credit to my coaches. They do a great job of getting us in the right position to make plays and thats what we all went out there and did tonight.”
Cornelius Nunn had the fourth pick for Palmetto, which improved to 6-1 overall.
“What a great performance by all of them tonight especially Corey and we actually had to put another freshman back there (Jason Marshall) when Shumar (Munroe) went out with a concussion,” said Palmetto coach Mike Manasco. “I love freshmen because all the mistakes the make are excuseable because they’re young but they played like seniors out there tonight.”
After South Dade, which came into the game undefeated at 7-0, tied the game on a Morrison-to-Najeh Baker 25-yard touchdown pass, Palmetto quarterback Cairiq Rackley found tight end Ivan Thomas for a 20 yard score midway through the second quarter to break a 7-7 tie to give the Panthers the lead for good.
Palmetto placekicker Tyler Larco gave his team a little breathing room with a 32-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and the defense, led by the two freshmen took it from there.
Said Manasco: “We hadn’t really played a good game since that big win over Naples last month so this was a good one over a tough opponent. For us to play well in a district game that means so much towards the playoffs, I’m really proud of my kids.”