ST. PETERSBURG - Expect fireworks and excitement tonight in Clewiston. Yes, Clewiston.
While it won't be confused with a booming metropolis anytime soon, it will be the likely site of a high-scoring game between St. Petersburg Catholic and the Tigers for the right to advance to next week's final four.
"We're peaking on offense at the right time," SPC coach Dan Mancuso said. "We're just firing on all cylinders right now and it has been fun to watch."
Mancuso's delight has come at the expense of opposing defenses, as the Barons (8-3) have scored an average of 39 points during their current four-game win streak, including a 49-36 win last week against Cardinal Newman in the opening round of the playoffs.
"We just have so many offensive weapons," Mancuso said.
Clewiston (7-3) also is capable on offense and has scored 30 or more points four times this season, including last week's 33-28 win against Tampa Catholic. Mancuso acknowledged the Tigers are a talented group - just not talented enough to top the Barons.
"(Clewiston) is athletic," he said. "But I think our skill outmatches their's and we will be exploiting their weaknesses."
Mancuso said one reason for the Baron's recent offensive success has been the play of quarterback David Girardi. The junior has matured from green, first-year starter to a confident leader.
"David's very smart and knows how to read defenses very well, Mancuso said. "But more importantly, he's learning when to check out (on an audible) and call what he sees."
Girardi's comfort level in SPC's spread offense has increased, and with that, his propensity to audible at the line according to the defense.
"It was matter of getting familiar with the offense and watching more and more game film," Girardi said.
In the beginning of the year, Girardi figures he audibled once, maybe twice, a game. But now?
"Probably like seven or eight times a game," Girardi said. "Because of our preparation, I feel like I know what the defense will do as I'm walking toward the line of scrimmage."
Mancuso said though the Barons have put up a lot of points lately, the key to the game will be in the trenches.
"We have to win the battle up front," Mancuso said. "If we do that, I don't see anyone holding us down."