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Crystal River continues reign of 'Canes

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 3, 2002

CRYSTAL RIVER -- With a 43-22 victory over Citrus, the Pirates did more than claim the throne as kings of the county.

Crystal River forced a three-way tie with Pace and Crawfordville Wakulla for two at-large playoff berths.

But after Friday night's road game, all the 6-3 Pirates wanted to do is celebrate their seventh straight win against the Hurricanes.

"It's pride for ourselves to know we're holding up the tradition that the people in front of us started," senior Ryan McNally said.

Crystal River junior Chianta Smith said Citrus played exactly how the Pirates expected.

"They're not a bad team, and we had to play our hearts out and just take it to them," Smith said. "I thought it'd be closer because their record was 5-3 just like us." Crystal River quarterback Chris Bunch knew it was going to be a good game when teammate Josh Hall's 63-yard run led to a 22-3 halftime advantage. The Pirates had managed just a field goal in the first half of the previous Friday's district loss to North Marion.

"I didn't even think about coming out and playing like this," Bunch said. "I just came out hoping we would get off the ball and wouldn't make the mistakes we made against North Marion.

"They (Hurricanes) couldn't stop our offense most of the night," he said.

Citrus' scoring attack fared much better than in years past. It had produced just 15 total points in the previous five meetings with Crystal River. This time, the 'Canes finished with 244 yards on 45 carries. But a good chunk came after substitutions had been made, and quarterback Casey Snyder was intercepted twice.

Pirates senior defensive end Scott O'Steen said Crystal River did exactly what it wanted. "We stopped their running game and forced them to pass the ball, and that's what we like to do. We've got some good guys up front that can get in the backfield and screw them up."

Coach Jere DeFoor's Pirates can improve to 7-3 this Friday if they beat 5-4 Hernando. All of Crystal River's losses were to playoff-bound opponents (Dunnellon, North Marion and South Sumter), and ties for at-large berths are broken with strength of schedule.

"In our three losses, we got beat by three teams that are playing really well," DeFoor said. "We've still got a good football team.

"We've always had good ballgames with Hernando, and our kids realize what good athletes they got."

The Pirates have six straight victories over the Leopards. Crystal River senior receiver William Bunch, who was suspended for unspecified reasons and did not play against Citrus, will be back for the Hernando game.

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