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Marauders suffer a big blow when Cooper is injured

The junior jack-of-all-trades is hurt in the second quarter, leaving Clearwater Central Catholic struggling to fill his many roles.

Published November 20, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - There was 6:41 left in the second quarter when the officials started pulling players out of a pile on the sideline.

Until, finally, there was one player left. And he wasn't getting up.

Clearwater Central Catholic's Riley Cooper was injured in a pile-up of his own defensive teammates. The diagnosis was a separated left shoulder, and he left the field on a golf cart.

Make no mistake, St. Petersburg Catholic was the better team Friday night. But after Cooper's game-ending injury, the Barons were significantly better.

"It hurts because he's your punt returner, your kick returner, your free safety, your wide receiver ... ," CCC coach Mike Jalazo said.

Without the fleet Cooper playing centerfield on defense, the Barons' even fleeter Jock Sanders finally broke loose. His game-breaking 65-yard scoring run to make it 28-14 with 5:00 left in the third quarter came as Cooper watched, his arm in a sling.

"I made the tackle but I just landed on my left elbow and (the arm) popped out backwards," the junior said. "I hate sitting. I wish I was out there helping us."

It was just one of several issues that left CCC fuming after the loss. And it nearly got out of hand in the end, when the Marauders' anger with the officials boiled over. Jalazo was unhappy with the officials all night. He was incensed that they didn't flag an SPC player for what the coach deemed "dancing" after laying out receiver Chris Campbell, who had to be helped to the team bus after the game. Nor would the officials set the ball, allowing the final 20 seconds to run down without explanation.

Jalazo would have given the officials a piece of his mind himself, but he had to keep 6-foot-5, 270-pound Billy Bob Stamas from doing the same.

"We didn't lose because of the officiating," Jalazo said. "We lost because they're a good football team. I want to say that.

"But every time we had momentum, we had a holding penalty and I would watch them tackle our guy in the back and they don't see it."

[Last modified November 20, 2004, 01:07:06]


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