LARGO Hialeah Champagnat pulled out all the stops for a chance at a state championship.
Champagnat quarterback Kato Nelson accounted for two touchdowns, Dedrick Andrews scored another behind the blocking of defensive lineman Travonte Valentine at fullback, and the Lions beat host Indian Rocks Christian 28-14 to advance to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
The Golden Eagles led through the first quarter and trailed by just one at the half. They trailed 20-14 with three minutes to play but could not get the defensive stop or fourth down conversion they needed to keep their state final hopes afloat.
Rocks Christian held the lead until Champagnat's final drive of the first half. Michael Fredrick banged the IRC defense for a big gain and then the Lions brought in 290-pound defensive tackle and Miami commit Valentine to lead block at full back. The result was a 4-yard TD run by Andrews
IRC still had some shots left as DB Tristan Denisac, burned most of the night by Darnell Salomon, picked off a Lion pass and returned it 60 yards to the Lion 35. Then they hit a screen pass to Theo Anderson who took it 38 yards in for the TD. IRC could not get the onside kick and the Lions behind Valentine and Fredrick ground them down capping a 63-yard drive with a Nelson keeper and conversion to make it 28-14.
Either Pines Charter is better than projected without UConn commit Prince Ali or Boyd Anderson wasn’t worth all the pre-season hype as a Class 7A state contender.
Saturday brings us closer to the truth when Boyd Anderson (3-1), which lost 60-50 to Pines Charter on Monday, travels to face two time defending Class 7A state champion and District 14-7A arch rival Blanche Ely (2-0) in what should draw a standing room only crowd.
After turning the ball over at will against Pines Charter, Boyd Anderson will need to be its ball security best against Ely and its relentless end to end pressure.
Senior point guard Lance Tejada III and 6-7 forward Therrell Gosier are the biggest returning names while transfers Joshua Floyd (16 ppg) and Javon Heastie (7 ppg) have provided a scoring punch.
Boyd Anderson added some firepower with the transfer of 6-2 guard Dondre Duffus and 6-5 forward Rodney Simeon but so far the highly touted duo have not developed the chemistry necessary to carry Boyd Anderson deep into the playoffs.
Although the Tigers are off to a 2-0 start, five-time state champion coach Melvin Randall was reportedly upset with the Tigers giving up 44 second half points in a 79-61 victory over Coral Springs Charter.
• Belen 51, North Port 58: Fernandez 14, Iparraguirre 11, Herrera 8, Cruz 7, Medina 4, Cambo 4, Perez 2, Cirera 1. NP:Barber 15, Miller 10, Thatcher 10, Sinopli 9, Deas 7, Gonzalez 7.Rebounds: Cambo 9.Assists: Iparraguirre 5.Steals: Herrera 5. BEL 2-2.
•Southridge 68, Krop 39:
SR: Johnny Garcia - 27, Marzan 9, Giles 2, Tisdale 6, Collier 10, Charles 6, Molano 8. MK:Jeanty 8, Mcfadden 15, Souza 9, Arcena 6, Staziscar 1. Rebounds: Molano 7. Blocks: Charles 2. Steals: Garica 6. Assists: Garcia 6. Three-pointers: Garcia 5, Marzan 1, Souza 1. SR: 5-1.
•Archimedean 47, Everglades Prep 34:
Yiannis Margetis 16. Rebounds: Margetis 14. Assists: Margetis 2. Steals: Margetis 2. Blocks: Margetis 10.