tampabay.com

Dueling RBs highlight district action

DuJuan Harris vs. Calvin Wood is tonight's marquee matchup.

By DAVID MURPHY
Published September 15, 2006


BROOKSVILLE -Aaron Bourguignon knows it. DuJuan Harris knows it. And you'd better believe Cliff Lohrey knows it.

Central may have beaten Crystal River 44-0 last week, and Harris may have rushed for 363 yards, but Tarpon Springs isn't Crystal River.

Not by a long shot.

"We know they are a better football team," said Bourguignon, a senior offensive and defensive lineman.

One week after decimating Crystal River, Central opens its district schedule with the defending Class 4A, District 8 champions. Last year, the Bears lost to the Spongers 44-14 in a game Lohrey termed "embarrassing." Central went on to win just two games in the district, while the Spongers finished 8-2 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Tarpon Springs (1-2) is a different team this season, having equalled its loss total from a year ago. But that makes little difference to the Bears, who lost their first two games before blowing out over-matched Crystal River.

"They're the district champion in my mind until someone beats them," Lohrey said.

The game will pit two of the bay area's most prolific running backs against each other. Harris, the Central senior, shattered the Hernando County single-game rushing record last week with his 363-yard, five-touchdown performance. But he did so against a team that has allowed at least 45 points in each of its first three games.

Meanwhile, Tarpon Springs senior Calvin Wood is coming off a 195-yard effort against Seminole. But Seminole is 0-3 and has scored just 21 points this season.

Last year, Wood rushed for 220 yards against Central.

"He's the real deal," Lohrey said.

Lohrey also is convinced Harris is the real deal.

The senior struggled in his first two games, but exploded last week and is averaging more than 10 yards per carry (40 carries for 459 yards). Through three games, he is on pace to finish the season with more than 1,500 yards rushing.

"I promise everyone in Tarpon Springs knows who DuJuan Harris is after what he did last week," Lohrey said. "Now, we are going to find out if he can do it as a marked man."

Wood also is averaging 10 yards per carry, having rushed 34 times for 350 yards in the Spongers' first three games.

But Central feels it has the ability to slow him down.

The Bears played Dunedin, which beat Tarpon Springs 34-0 two weeks ago, in their spring game. The absence of free safety Heath Heroux, who will miss the game after being ejected for a late hit last week, will hurt.

Still, Central seems optimistic. The Bears face their two toughest district opponents, Tarpon Springs and Springstead, at home this year, and the Spongers have looked beatable during the first three weeks of the season.

"They look physical, but we'll be ready," Bourguignon said. "I think we definitely have a chance.

"I'm looking forward to the competition."