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Friday night rewind

By BRANT JAMES, FRANK PASTOR and KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002

QUOTABLE

"We kind of took it personal because they beat us last year pretty soundly. This shows if you don't give up and if you play together, good things happen. It's called heart." -- Isaiah Webb, Citrus running back, on avenging a 34-14 loss to Central.

GAME BALLS

STEVE MARTIN, CENTRAL: On a night when Central looked flat, the maniac fullback seemed to be the only Bear willing to hit someone. The senior entered on the Bears' second series of the second half and rushed five times for 45 yards.

TIM GAYNOR, CENTRAL: Hampered by a sprained ankle injured in practice Monday, Gaynor rushed 25 times for 124 yards and a touchdown.

JAGREN CASTILLO, HERNANDO: The junior running back rushed for 137 yards on 18 carries, scoring on runs of 28 and 63 yards in the Leopards' 28-22 victory at Springstead.

ROD ROBERTS, HERNANDO: The junior running back gained 98 yards on 14 carries, including a 25-yard touchdown that gave the Leopards a 21-6 second-quarter lead.

MIKE HIBBERT, SPRINGSTEAD: The junior kicked field goals of 46, 30 and 30 yards and converted his only extra-point attempt, accounting for 10 of the Eagles' 22 points.

SWEET RELIEF

Hernando found a quick solution after quarterback Brad Wyatt injured his left, non-throwing thumb in the first quarter of Friday's victory over Springstead: Hand the offense to sophomore Antonio Brown. Brown guided the Leopards to touchdowns on his first two drives. Before the night was over, he added a 13-yard completion, a 19-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion run in his longest varsity outing at quarterback. "I didn't think I was going to come in that early as quarterback, because I was at split end at the time," Brown said. "Hopefully, we get Brad back and I get some time at split end." Hernando coach Bill Browning said Brown lacks Wyatt's experience but has a good arm and is more elusive.

OLD DAYS

New Central coach John Wilkinson delivered a more diverse offense on Friday night. Quarterback Joe Brazeau went 6-for-16 for 58 yards and three interceptions. But Central's most compelling drive harkened back to old-school Bears ball. During the drive that Martin rushed for 45 yards, Central used the Jumbo Fridge play. Anthony Gaynor was replaced in the backfield by Martin and 5-foot-11, 201-pound linebacker-turned battering ram Richie DelValle. The ballcarrier followed DelValle. Citrus knew it, but was hard-pressed to stop it.

EXTRA POINTS

Erik Larson and Charles Gonyea recovered fumbles, and Kurt Carriveau intercepted a pass for Springstead. Willie Fifer had a fumble recovery for Hernando. ... The Eagles attempted two onside kicks, but Hernando recovered both. ... Hernando tried a fake punt, but Jagren Castillo was stopped after a six-yard gain, three short of a first down. ... Castillo lined up for an extra-point after kicker Heath Hensley briefly left the game, but a bad snap prevented him from attempting the kick. ... The Leopards turned the ball over on their first two possessions.

PASSING FANCY

Joe Brazeau has a burden no Central quarterback has faced in years: he has to get better at reading defenses and finding open receivers. He looked polished in the first quarter, going 3-for-5 for 32 of his 58 passing yards, and rushed 67 yards on a quarterback keeper. Little went right thereafter, as he threw three interceptions, two of which were very costly.

JUST AN OBSERVATION

1. This is a football state? Maybe, but not around here, or at least not at Central. With a new season, new team, new coach, and a team the Bears were supposed to beat on display, good seats -- really good seats and lots of them -- were available.

2. Central played poorly enough to lose Friday, but had two arguably bad calls go against it late in the third quarter trailing 14-10. On third-and-10 from the Citrus 15, Joe Brazeau found wide receiver Joshua Simmons in the back left of the end zone for an apparent touchdown. Simmons leaped to make the catch, fell on the Citrus defender -- who was inbounds -- but was ruled out. On fourth down on the same play, defender R.J. Cobb bumped Simmons from behind as he readied to catch the ball, but no penalty was called.

3. If Central coach John Wilkinson proved anything Friday night, it's that he's a gambler. He went for it on fourth down three times on the Bears' first drive, which ended in a touchdown. Trailing 14-10 in the second half, he twice eschewed field-goal attempts (from the 21 and 20) for fourth-down tries that failed. He even onside kicked in the first half.

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