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Cougars physical, even QB

JOHN C. COTEY
Published September 14, 2004

It was a run wide to the right, with the offensive line leading the way for the running back.

But behind the play, a Clearwater defensive back was trying to catch up to the play. Instead, he ran into Countryside's Harrison Beck, who laid him out with a block.

Later, that same back would try to tackle Beck on a scramble, and met a similar fate.

And later yet, Beck caught a halfback pass from Bobby Floyd, and with one defender between him and the goal line, barrelled his way in for the score, running over yet another defensive back.

All this punishment delivered by a quarterback.

For all the talk about Countryside's slick passing offense, the Cougars made it clear Friday night in a win over Clearwater that while they might not be as fast as last year's model, they might be tougher.

"We're going to hit some people," Beck said. "We're going to try and knock you out."

Beck's hits were the most noticeable, but far from the only big blows delivered by Countryside.

The defensive line delivered some hard shots on Clearwater running back Jason Harris. It took multiple Tornadoes to bring down wide receiver Mike James (five catches for 96 yards). And running backs Anthony Graham and Casey Roebuck combined for 122 hard-nosed yards.

"We're going to replace (last year's leading rusher) Isaiah Gwyn with a committee back there," Cougars coach John Davis said. "He was a great back. These guys aren't as fast as he was, but they are bigger and stronger. They help make this definitely a more physical team than last year's."

Perhaps the most physical play came in the trenches, where Beck and Davis effused praise for the team's offensive line, led by James Boyd, Seaver Brown, Brandon Thorn and L.J. Govoni. Even when Thorn went down with a broken hand that might cost him six weeks, sophomore Matt Brown stepped in with a solid outing.

BEST DISTRICT: Every team in Class 4A, District 9 - Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Dixie Hollins, Countryside and Largo - won Friday, further convincing its coaches that it is one of the toughest districts in the state.

"It's been that way for a while," Tarpon Springs coach Don Davis said. "It's no secret to me. I told my coaches before Friday, I guaranteed that everyone would win."

This week, all but the Spongers open district play as Dunedin faces Largo and Dixie Hollins meets Countryside.

UNREAL THEO: Dunedin quarterback Theo Wilson, one of the county's top players, had an impressive start to 2004 with three touchdowns passing (all to Ricky Rouse) and another rushing.

But what really impressed coach Mark Everett was the way Wilson called plays - every touchdown pass came after Wilson audibled out of a running play.

"When he walked off the field, I gave him the headset and said, "Why don't you be the offensive coordinator'," Everett said.

HOT DEBUTS: Some new faces make big impacts for the Falcons.

With starting running back Tim Benjamin out with a knee injury, junior fullback Sequintus Henry stepped in and ran for a game-high 140 yards.

And senior safety Shrome Hargrove, who played junior varsity ball last year, had three interceptions and one returned for a touchdown.

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK: Boca Ciega beating Pinellas Park wasn't a shock.

Winning 53-0 was.

Winning while throwing just one pass in the second half was.

Winning while using nothing but fullbacks to run in the second half was.

Now coach Jean Gordon has to convince his team the victory is no big deal.

"(The win) was put away the day after," Gordon said. "When we practiced, that was the theme. I told them in no uncertain terms that that was a non-district game and since we didn't have our fall classic, they better just consider that our fall classic."

Gordon was pleased with his team's overall effort, especially a near-perfect offense run by quarterback Terrell Skinner.

The senior was 4-for-5 for 71 yards, and ran for another 45 yards on three carries. Skinner also had a 72-yard run called back for holding.

Skinner has an offer from Central Florida, but is slowly making his way onto the recruiting radar.

"I have to tell you, I'm really surprised he has not had more people knocking (on his door)," Gordon said.

HANDY MAN: Clearwater Central Catholic wideout/free safety/punter Riley Cooper did it all for the Marauders in their win over Hernando. The junior rushed once for 17 yards, caught two passes for 46 yards, returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown and averaged 42.8 yards on four punts.

NOTES-N-NUMBERS: As good as 4A-9 was, 5A-9 was that bad. Clearwater, East Lake, PHU and Pinellas Park went 0-4 and were outscored 140-16. ... Bogie's 53 points were the most the Pirates scored since beating East Lake 51-0 in 1987. Last year, Bogie scored 48 total points in its two wins. ... In its first season, Indian Rocks Christian took its lumps, allowing 65 or more points four times. Friday, the shoe was on the other foot, as it played first-year Hernando Christian and scored 65. ... IRC running back Jimmy Davis, a senior, ran for five touchdowns and 153 yards.

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