They say winning cures everything.
If that’s the case, then all the turmoil the Miramar football team faced in the week leading up to its winner-take-all meeting with Cypress Bay for the District 12-8A runner-up playoff spot can be set behind the Patriots.
After a blown fourth-quarter lead in an essential district championship game to Flanagan last week, head coach Matt Strout’s resignation on Tuesday and top receiver Jovon Durante found ineligible academically on Wednesday, according to a report, Miramar’s rocky week culminated in a 34-14 home victory against Cypress Bay on Friday.
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“It’s been a rough week — one of the toughest things I’ve ever been through, taking over for the first time as a head coach,” interim coach and defensive coordinator A.J. Scott said. “Just proud of the team, proud of the coaching staff, proud of the Miramar Patriots — stuck together through everything that’s been going on.
“The beginning [when Strout first resigned] was rough because we had to find ourselves, including me. It happened so fast I didn’t know what to do, but my coaching staff helped me pull this all together.”
The Patriots (6-3, 4-1) clinched a playoff spot and will face District 11-8A champion Monarch in the first round. Cypress Bay (5-3, 3-2) is eliminated from postseason contention.
Miramar’s defense, famously known as the “Dark Side,” not only stifled the Lightning offense but scored three touchdowns, forced seven turnovers — five fumble recoveries and two interceptions — and added seven sacks.
“I learned from the best. [Former Miramar coach Damon] Cogdell gave me the ‘Book of Dark Side,’” said Scott, who coached defense under Cogdell for six seasons from 2008-2013. “Only me and Coach Cogdell can read it. It’s in our language.”
Danzel King, Brandon Morris and Laboris Alvis all returned fumbles for touchdowns in a first half that had the Patriots leading 28-7 while running just six offensive plays.
Alvis’ 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown absorbed all the momentum from Cypress Bay before halftime as the Lightning was driving for a second time trying to turn what had been a 21-0 deficit into a one-possession game before the intermission.
“If those things come to me, I take advantage of them,” Alvis said. “It felt awesome knowing that we could score points on defense to help our offense out. It felt wonderful.”
Alvis also had an interception that set up a Demari Simpkins 35-yard touchdown pass to Kahlil Lewis, one of two scoring connections between Simpkins and Lewis.
King’s 55-yard fumble return off a bad snap killed Cypress Bay’s opening drive, which ate up the first 8:30 off the clock. The Lightning’s ensuing possession resulted in Morris’ 28-yard fumble return for a score on another failed shotgun snap.
Simpkins went 5 for 9 for 99 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. All his passes were completed to Lewis.
As for Durante, he did not dress. and Scott would not confirm if he was out due to academic ineligibility.
“For some reason, the school told me some stuff is going on right now,” Scott said. “They told me to not play him right now. I listen to the AD.”
Miramar wraps up its regular season with one final district matchup against Cooper City on Saturday, Nov.1.
Cypress Bay has a Halloween meeting with McArthur up next.