Riverview dominates on both sides of the ball
Apparently, Ali Boyce and the Riverview High football team did have something left in the tank.
And it could not have come at a better time.
The Rams turned in one of their most complete performances of the season, dominating Manatee High on both sides of the ball and getting not only a strong performance from oft-injured running back Boyce, but also a semblance of a passing game in a 24-13 victory Friday night over the Hurricanes on the road at Joe Kinnan Field at Hawkins Stadium.
The victory puts Riverview in the driver’s seat in Class 8A-District 6. All the Rams need is a victory over their namesake from the north Tampa Riverview to clinch their third straight district title.
Riverview and Manatee are 4-1 in the district, but the Rams hold the tiebreaker in the form of head-to-head meeting. No other team has more than two victories in the seven-team district.
Still not 100 percent, Boyce paved the way as a four-year senior starter should. Running behind an offensive line of Jeremiah Washington, Ian Beckmann, Kye Dixon, Mattie Zeeff and Dominick Fitzgerald, along with tight end Michael Fraraccio, Boyce rushed for 199 yards and a score and caught a pass for 11 yards and a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Sean White also made his presence known on the offense. With the Rams struggling in the passing game at times this season, White threw for a pair of scores, including a 3-yarder to basketball standout Malachi Wideman. White’s throws were accurate and authoritative, as he too benefited from the dominance of the offensive line.
Riverview’s defense also brought hats to the party, limiting the potent Hurricanes’ offense to less than 200 yards of total offense. Manatee rushed 26 times for 102 yards, an average of 3.9 per carry, and threw for 97 yards on 8-for-18 accuracy.
The postseason hopes for the Hurricanes certainly are not dashed, but it did take a severe blow. Manatee also has a game with Tampa Riverview on Friday on the road and closes the season at Venice, a game that should generate points even with a loss to the Indians.
The Hurricanes had a playoff berth within grasp Friday night, but let it slip away, just as Ali Boyce slipped through the hands of their defense.
Other district news
• Things went as expected in Class 7A-District 11 where the three top teams — Venice, Braden River and Palmetto — beat up on their respective foes — North Port, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch.
The Indians hold a one-game lead over the Pirates and Tigers with an intriguing Oct. 26 game at Palmetto looming.
• Charlotte won a big 6A-10 game over North Fort Myers to climb to the top of the district standings alone. The Tarpons lead the Red Knights and Cape Coral by one game heading into Friday’s game against the Seahawks on the road.
• Hanging on at Lemon Bay, Southeast situated itself nicely near the top of the 5A-11 standings. The 2-0 Seminoles trail only 3-0 Wauchula Hardee County. The two teams square off Friday in Bradenton.
• A rejuvenated Booker High squad has won two straight district games after deflating DeSoto County and remains in the hunt at 2-1 in 5A-11. The Tornadoes have games with Lemon Bay and at Southeast remaining in the district.
• In 3A-Region 3, Cardinal Mooney survived a scare from a game Naples First Baptist Academy squad to stay unbeaten overall. The Cougars are 2-0 in the region with only Oct. 26 foe Clearwater Central Catholic (3-0) the only other unbeaten team in the region.
• In the Sunshine State Athletic Conference Coral Bay Division, Saint Stephen’s (4-0) swept the five-team division.
Running wild on Thursday night
For weeks, Paul Maechtle has tried to get the Cardinal Mooney running game going.
Maybe it took losing quarterback after quarterback to injury and being forced to run out of necessity.
Maybe it was an adjustment along the offensive line.
Or maybe it was just the emergence of Tray Hall.
Hall, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound junior ran around and past the Naples First Baptist defense for 320 yards on 18 carries and scored three long touchdowns in keeping the Cougars unbeaten after seven games.
That prompted Maechtle, a Hall of Fame coach, to call Hall a “tremendous runner.”
Cardinal Mooney completed two passes in the game, one for negative-1 yard and the second a 20-yard touchdown pass from Geno Giardino, the third Cougars’ quarterback to take a snap in the game, to Meko Mays that broke a 27-all tie.
With the exception of a 66-yard run by quarterback Isaac Green, who served as the scout QB leading up to the game, on a run-pass option, the majority of the offense came from Hall, who scored from 37, 66 and 61 yards out.
Hall’s performance was not the best by a running back on Thursday night.
DJ Clark of Saint Stephen’s rambled for 447 yards and five touchdowns in the Falcons’ 55-25 destruction of Bradenton Christian in a Sunshine State Athletic Conference Coral Bay game.
Clark has made meteoric rise since the start of the season. He went from gaining 26 on the ground in the season opener against Tampa Cambridge Christian to 29 against Windermere Prep to 140 against St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep to 171 against St. Petersburg Northside Christian to 255 against Out-of-Door to 447 against the Panthers, who made a concerted effort to throw Clark off his game.
All 12 of Clark’s touchdowns have come in the past four games.
It was a great Thursday for a couple of young small-school backs, who performed their magic in a downpour at times.
• For the second straight year, Kennedy Catholic ventured to Florida and returned to Somers, New York, with a setback courtesy of Out-of-Door Academy. This year, the Thunder, who had scored six points in their previous two games, pinned a 23-0 setback on the Gaels, handing them their first loss of the season.
At 5-2, Out-of-Door is one win shy of its total from last season going into the final regular season game Friday at 3-4 St. Petersburg Catholic. It was the second shutout of the season for the Thunder, who also blanked Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic.
• How about Port Charlotte's Derek McCormick? The Pirates' kicker booted a school-record 51-yard field goal, beating his brother Devyn's record by a yard, added a 29-yard field goal, went 7-for-7 on PAT kicks, booted six touchbacks and had a 65-yard punt. Not to shabby.
• IMG Academy Blue handed Clearwater Superior Collegiate its second loss of the season, a 49-0 setback. The Ascenders will play their next two home games at Manatee High against Middletown (Delaware) and on the turf of Saint Stephen’s Moore Athletic Complex against COF Academy (Columbus, Ohio) at 1 p.m. Oct. 20 and 27, respectively.
• MaxPreps statistics go back to 2004 and at no time during that stretch had Palmetto scored more than 69 points.
• According to the Florida High School Records kept by Buddy Collings of the Orlando Sentinel, Paul Maechtle had a 283-105 record through 2013, his final season at Southeast High. Joe Kinnan owned a 290-71 mark after his final season at Manatee High.
With his seven victories at Cardinal Mooney this season, Maechtle tied Kinnan with 290 wins. There is a question of a couple of forfeits, but that is what is on the site. And, as expected, the classy Maechtle did not want that to be the main story after the Cougars’ victory over First Baptist Academy, but it's an accomplishment like that should be duly noted.
• Scott Lockwood picked up two games over the other guy in this week’s picks. Lockwood went 11-2 and is 84-17 (83 percent). The other guy is 79-22 (78 percent). We both have Clearwater Academy International against IMG White on Saturday night.