Tornado seniors go out on top
They won titles in youth leagues. And they end their prep careers with a state championship.
By ALEX LYNCH
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001
TAMPA -- What better way to end your senior season than winning the state championship. For the Tornado seniors, it came true.
Except for Peter Merkle, who broke his leg last week during practice and could not contribute.
At least physically.
"That hurt us bad," senior Tom Gluski said. "He was really coming around and playing valuable minutes, hustling. We had to come out here and play without him. But we played our hearts out remembering him."
Although Merkle couldn't play, he was just as happy as if he were the one who scored the winning goal.
"I was just as much a part of the team whether I played or not," he said "I guess me breaking my leg was a motivation for (the players), but I think everyone contributed equally. This team has a lot of heart." Memories were made Saturday, memories of relationships that had grown from under-11 teams (in which they won a championship) to the club teams the seniors play on together in the summer, all the way to the climax at Pepin/Rood stadium.
"We owe it to the whole team," senior John Schraeder said. "This is the way to go out."
Flagler Palm Coast kept the pressure on Clearwater throughout the game, but Clearwater goalkeeper Brian Roe did his best impression of a wall, stopping 10 shots as the Tornadoes were outshot 28-8 by the defending state champions.
"Excellent, just excellent," senior Travis Gero said of Roe.
"He came up with big saves and saved our butts a couple of times. If it wasn't for him, we might have lost this game."
For a group of seniors who have played together all of their lives, this was the pinnacle of a long road that began long ago. "The reason I do this is for the seniors," Clearwater coach Bruce Toscani said.
"They have worked real hard for this, and to see them go out this way is why you do it."
Back to Sports
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times sports desk
Sorrow in mind, foot on the gas
Fans pour outtheir emotions for Earnhardt
Bodine makes late pit stop pay off
Gordon wins pole, tips cap to late rival
Hammer time ?
One game, two shutouts
Injury could make Mario sit out against Lightning
Today: Lightning at Sabres
Clymer's career could move forward
Avs aren't cheering -- yet -- trade that brought in Blake
The market for top QBs likely is too competitive
Professional football roundup
Gasparilla Distance Classic
Drake pulls off unique daily double
Quick start, fast finish
Fewer runners challenge for titles as expected
Caruso, Guillen know what Hamilton faces
With all their new pluses, Rangers still minus pitching
Today's area camps workouts
Hard-throwing Colome gets good reviews
Torre: As usual, pitching is the key
Bulls back in hunt entering rematch
Stumble sends Tampa down rugged path
College basketball roundup
Today: FSU at N.C. State
Women's basketball briefs
Most agree: NBA wouldn't fly in Tampa Bay
Highs and lows
This week on TV
Calm day shortens regatta
Area piers offering a variety
'Kunga' a winner by TKO in the 10th
Tarver starts comeback with TKO
Media sell Mickelson short after playoff win
Hillsborough schools have a banner day
Gators reach deep to clobber Crimson Tide
Eagles proud with their two victories
Three area wrestlers win titles
Land O'Lakes leaves no doubt early, crushes Hernando
Jesuit, Bloomingdale win titles
Bulls bring home title with overtime victory
Cowboys fall in penalty kicks
War Eagles swarm Leopards
Goals not necessary for Tigers' celebration
Tornadoes win 3A state title
Tornado seniors go out on top
Six Bulls seniors keep their promise to bring home title
Jesuit goalie overcomes 'deathly sick'
Sarasota overwhelms Boca Ciega in Region 3 final 83-48
Cousins make statement instead of state history
From the wire
From the state sports wire Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
Brown anxious to face old team for first time
Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts