Obviously, I’m joking. One game is only so meaningful. However, there are lessons that supporters may take away from how their teams performed in week one. Here is an overview of each region team’s performance and future plans.
The Riverview High quarterback position was in doubt heading into the season because the Rams were tossing it back and forth between senior Braxton Thomas, senior Jeremiah Dawson, and junior Anthony Miller. Near the start of the season, when a club lacks a certain starter, it typically portends bad things. That’s not always the case, as the Rams demonstrated in their season opener against Southeast High.
In the first half, all three quarterbacks versus Southeast threw touchdown passes. Thomas ultimately emerged as the team’s top quarterback, completing four of seven passes for 122 yards and three passing touchdowns. However, Miller also had a significant impact, not only at quarterback but also at wide receiver, where he amassed more than 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the innovative offense run by new offensive coordinator Brody Wiseman. Ultimately, Riverview won 54-0.
Of course, the defense also contributed to the result by forcing three interceptions from Southeast, one of which was recovered for a touchdown by sophomore Andon Clough. However, the offense is now well-known. On September 1 (storm allowing), they’ll face off against far harder opponents than Southeast, such Buchholz High. Which will
Booker High football Head Coach Scottie Littles’ preseason press conference, held Aug. 12 at The Mall at University Town Center as part of Suncoast Media Day, had one consistent message: the Tornadoes need to finish.
Booker significantly improved from its winless 2021 campaign in 2022, Littles’ first campaign in charge, and ended 6-5, including a 43-31 loss to Frostproof High in the opening round of the playoffs. It could, however, have been so much better. The Tornadoes had early leads in a number of their defeats, including defeats to DeSoto County High (15-7) and Braden River High (42-28). This offseason, Littles concentrated on correcting the errors that cost him games that may have ended in victories.
The Tornadoes shown in week one of 2023 that they still need to learn how to win. Booker maintained a 35-21 halftime advantage against Immokalee High at home before allowing the Indians to get back into the game.
For a program trying to expand on the platform it laid in 2022, the loss hurts, but there were also some bright spots. Takurian Smith, a sophomore, added energy anytime he entered the game, converting four carries into 41 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Ahmad Hunter was his usual steady presence, gaining 109 yards on 21 carries. Alexander Diaz, a junior, only completed 10 of his 23 passes as a quarterback, but he made the most of them, accumulating 269 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Josiah Booker, a senior wide receiver, once again demonstrated his skill as a deep threat by contributing 134 of those yards and one of the touchdowns.
However, the defense allowed the Indians to gain 343 running yards (6.5 yards per carry), and even though Immokalee quarterback Trannon Villareal only completed 13 of 20 passes while throwing for 177 yards, he was effective. Before the possibility of a comeback materializes, Booker’s defense must shut down the opposition’s attack if it hopes to compete for a playoff spot. Otherwise, other games might come to a same conclusion.
Football at Sarasota High School under head coach Josh Phillips got off to a losing start.
At home, the Sailors were defeated by Fort Meade High 28–14. Sarasota struggled early on, as the squad fell behind 28-7 in the fourth quarter before a late score cut the deficit in half. 400 yards were conceded by the Sailors’ defense to the
This outcome shouldn’t be taken as a warning that the team’s season will be poor because teams sometimes take time to gel after head coaching changes. It merely draws attention to areas that require improvement as well as positive aspects, such as senior linebacker Hayden McSwane’s 11 tackles versus the Miners. On a ball from senior Michael Bendever, senior wide receiver Chris Rudolph also made a deft toe-tapping touchdown catch; the Sailors will need more athletic plays like that this season.
The road won’t get any easier for Sarasota in week two when they play Manatee High (1-0), but it is an opportunity to continue to develop as a team.
Carson Beach, a senior rushing back at Cardinal Mooney, will attempt to surpass 1,000 yards in 2023.
Cardinal Mooney started the 2022 season slowly, beating Booker 10-9 before dropping six straight contests. Despite all their talent, particularly on offense, the Cougars were simply out of rhythm.
In 2023, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.
In the opening week, the Cougars trounced Avon Park High 54-0. The game was such a rout that Mooney withdrew senior starting quarterback Michael Valentino after the first quarter, forget about resting the starters in the second half. Prior to that, he made a number of excellent plays, including a pass for a 20-yard score to senior receiver Zy’marion Lang. Lang gained 58 yards for a score after taking a swing pass.
Bo O’Daniel, a sophomore receiver, returned a punt 44 yards for a Mooney touchdown, which was one of his fewer common scoring opportunities. The defense also contributed by causing three fumbles for Avon Park. The first one directly resulted in senior running back Carson Beach scoring a touchdown.
Cardinal Mooney will deal with far stiffer dangers than Avon Park, similar to Riverview. But the improvement is obvious when you contrast the first game of the previous season with 2023. There is no joking around with the Cougars. They are here to put their all into every game. Mooney demonstrated how superior teams can outperform inferior teams.