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Friday night rewind

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 3, 2002


"They've earned every respect they've gotten. We decided to do it (Friday) in typical Ridgewood fashion. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective. That's all that matters. We're happy as (heck) to be playing in the playoffs." -- TROY CORNWELL, Ridgewood coach, on the Rams' 19-14 win over Central that earned the program the first postseason appearance in its 19-year history.


ANTHONY PONDS, RIDGEWOOD: The junior defensive back recovered two fumbles, broke up two passes and returned kickoffs in the Rams' 19-14 victory over Central. Ponds' first fumble recovery set up Ridgewood's first touchdown, and his second sealed the win in the final minutes.

ADAMM OLIVER, RIDGEWOOD: The senior tailback/defensive end rushed for a game-high 139 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown, on 24 carries in the Rams' win. His 22-yard run up the middle set up Sean Jester's winning score midway through the fourth quarter.

MIKE OIKNINE, CENTRAL: The senior wide receiver caught four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. He wrestled a ball away from Ridgewood defensive back Kale Durocher for a 30-yard gain and caught a 55-yard touchdown for a brief fourth-quarter lead.

TIM GAYNOR, CENTRAL: The senior running back rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries on his birthday. His 62-yard run around right end gave the Bears a spark after they fell behind 13-0 in the first quarter, and his 15-yard scoring run three plays later got them back in the game.

ANTHONY GAYNOR, CENTRAL: The sophomore defensive back blocked an extra-point attempt and intercepted a pass in the end zone, preventing Ridgewood from adding to its early 13-point lead.

ART STARKS, HERNANDO: The senior running back finished with a game-high 149 yards (on 12 carries) and a 73-yard touchdown in a 42-26 win over Gulf. Starks had 100 yards after four carries. His touchdown run was nearly undone by the prescription brace he wears on his surgically repaired knee. It began to slide down his leg near the end of the run and he had to slow down inside the 20-yard line.

ROD ROBERTS, HERNANDO: The junior nearly matched Starks with 137 yards on 11 carries and a 9-yard score. Defensive back Bobby Harmer will remember that touchdown (Roberts' fifth of the season). Roberts paved him like Broad Street at the goal line. Roberts' big night helped him pass teammate Jagren Castillo in rushing yardage for the season. He has 678, Castillo 655.


Trailing by five and facing fourth-and-10 from its 26-yard line with less than a minute remaining, Central tried a fumblerooski play that appeared to gain 30 yards and a first down. But an official called center Jason Santiago down and Ridgewood took over on downs, even though the Bears alerted officials before the game that the fumblerooski was in their playbook.


Central coach John Wilkinson confronted lineman Wade Hampton on the sideline after Hampton flung his helmet to the ground at the end of the game. "We're going to lose with class," Wilkinson said. "That's what it's all about. We're going to lose with class. You throw your helmet like that, you're not going to play for me."


Central does not play next week, so unless the Bears qualify for the playoffs as an at-large team, Friday's game was the last for 15 seniors: Tim Gaynor, Albert Mathis, Bobby Batista, David Ramos, Joe Brazeau, Shawn Dunker, Jason Maier, Mohammed Benhaloua, Steve Martin, Chris Ortiz, Mike Gurske, Jason Fowler, Nick Marty, Mike Oiknine and John Walters.


Word of Central's likely playoff demise was circulating on the Hernando sideline, and with a 42-26 win over Gulf assured, the Leopards had time to indulge in a little schadenfreude (joy in others' misfortune). The thought of Central going to the playoffs in Class 4A, District 6 at 4-5 bemused Hernando, which played in a killer Class 3A, District 7 with Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel (8-1). "I wish we could have been in that district," running back Art Starks said. "The level of competition -- we played Wesley Chapel, Pasco (5-4), Zephyrhills. They don't play anybody of that caliber a team."

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