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With just 24 players, Zephyrhills wins its second playoff game in school history.
By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 17, 2002
ZEPHYRHILLS -- For the undermanned Bulldogs, Friday's 15-14 win over Bartow lent credence to the team's maxim: quality over quantity.
Class 3A, District 7 champion Zephyrhills made history by winning its second playoff game and first at home. In its only other postseason game at Bulldog Stadium, Zephyrhills lost 21-17 to Bartow in a 1995 quarterfinal.
"These kids will have a lot to remember," Zephyrhills principal Jim Davis said. "The older they get, the better the score gets. That's something they'll always remember."
Belying a team virtually bereft of backups, the 24-man squad featuring eight two-way starters tries for its third playoff win -- and second straight at home -- against Jesuit on Friday.
Revenge could fuel the fire. Former district rival Jesuit eliminated Zephyrhills last year in a first-round 34-14 win.
"We've got to keep it going," said two-way lineman Daniel Cerf, who recovered a fumble against Bartow. "I want Jesuit. I want Jesuit bad."
Cerf, along with fellow two-way linemen Bubba Tindale and Jamen Monbarren, were too pumped up after Friday's playoff win to be tired.
"We can't get tired," said Monbarren, whose late fumble recovery clinched Zephyrhills' slim victory, "I'm tired physically, but mentally you try to overcome it."
Giving everything they have for as long as they can is something coach Tom Fisher has preached to his players. A limited roster, he noted, leaves few options.
"We get to bandage them up on the sidelines and throw them back in there," Fisher said.
Bartow running back Dedrian Grier, who had 18 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle, praised the Bulldogs.
"They're just a team that doesn't give up," said Grier, who limped to the Bulldogs' postgame huddle to shake hands with several players.
Aside from Monbarren's late fumble recovery, two players who did not give up Friday were defensive back John McKnight and quarterback James Adamo.
McKnight returned an interception 90 yards to tie the game at 7-7 with 28 seconds left in the first half. He also broke up two passes and nearly had another interception in the fourth quarter.
Adamo, who was 9-of-17 for 110 yards and a touchdown, shouldered most of the Bulldogs' offensive load as the Yellow Jackets stymied Zephyrhills' ground game.
Running backs Justin Cobb, Sidney Williams and Bryan Thomas entered Friday's game with a combined 1,642 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Against the Yellow Jackets, they were held to just 63 yards on 17 carries.