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Wildcats, Knights beat rain

Wesley Chapel and River Ridge win their quarters of play before a storm wipes out the rest of the jamboree.

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 30, 2002


WESLEY CHAPEL -- By opting to play in a jamboree instead of a preseason classic, five teams were willing to make the sacrifice of playing two quarters of preseason football instead of an entire game.

But lightning and heavy rains Thursday at Wesley Chapel forced the cancellation of a five-team jamboree after just two 12-minute scrimmages.

So four teams will open the regular season Sept.6 with only one quarter of real-game experience, and Springstead didn't play at all.

Wesley Chapel cruised past Gulf 15-0, and River Ridge handled Mitchell 7-0. Then just as Springstead was to take the field against Mitchell, storms blew in.

"I think we had six offensive plays, so it's really hard to judge," said Mustangs coach Scott Schmitz, whose team opens at home next week against Zephyrhills.

The Wildcats played like they did in dominating the county last year, amassing 106 rushing yards before Gulf had a first down.

Even with top rusher Tyrone Tomlin recovering from knee surgery, Wesley Chapel didn't skip a beat, getting touchdown runs from senior Greg Harrison and sophomore Nigel Bryant.

Bryant, Tomlin's cousin, came in on the Wildcats' first two third downs, gaining 15 and 17 yards. He added runs of 12 and 13 yards before scoring on an 8-yard run. Wesley Chapel went for two, and holder Anthony Rawson found Chris Roberts open for the conversion.

After going three-and-out on its first two possessions, Gulf got a 10-yard run from Fernando Rodriguez. But Jeff Blanchette threw the first of two interceptions by Shawn Stewart, setting up a 2-yard touchdown by Harrison, who finished with 44 yards.

"We moved the ball pretty well, and we had six different guys back there," coach John Castelamare, whose team missed another score when it fumbled inside Gulf's 20 on its first drive.

Mitchell, limited to six offensive plays, played well defensively, holding River Ridge in check except for an underthrown 46-yard touchdown from Ryan Mistal to Chris Malone.

Malone came back from his route, beat defensive back Leon McIntosh and reached the end zone. "Defensively, we're much better than where we were at this time last year," Schmitz said. "That was the first thing we wanted to work on."

River Ridge got most of its offense from Mistal, who scrambled for 18 yards on a third and 5 then lobbed the touchdown to Malone from midfield on a third and 23.

"In one quarter, I don't think you get a chance to get rolling that much," Knights coach Mike DeGennaro said.

"At times, I thought we did what we were supposed to. But at times, we didn't."

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