By JOHN SCHWARB and BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 25, 2001
PALM HARBOR -- Tarpon Springs is about to graduate a half-dozen offensive weapons from its 9-2 team of last season.
However, the Spongers have not run out of playmakers named Houllis.
Sophomore Anthony Houllis, cousin of senior Achilleas Houllis (1,705 yards passing and a county-best 23 touchdown passes in 2000), stepped in at quarterback Thursday night and showed flashes of brilliance, running for a pair of touchdowns in a 20-7 spring classic victory over Palm Harbor U.
Anthony did not quite display the passing ability of Achilleas -- completing 4 of 11 passes for 49 yards -- but he turned a broken play into the go-ahead touchdown in the final quarter of the three-quarter exhibition.
On second and 4 from the Hurricanes 10, Houllis dropped back to throw but saw nothing. He rolled to his right to buy some time but, again, found no open receivers. Finally, he pulled the ball down and darted around defenders down the right sideline and to the end zone pylon, putting Tarpon up 14-7.
"It was supposed to be a pass, but I feel more comfortable running," Houllis said. "My cousin, there are big shoes to fill there. He's a better quarterback, that's for sure."
Houllis also scored on a 1-yard sneak early in the second quarter. Jeremy Saunders, looking to fill the hole at running back vacated by Alex Baldwin and Nelson Walker, ran for 92 yards on 11 carries before leaving the game late with a hip pointer.
Like Tarpon, PHU is working with a new quarterback and auditioning for a feature running back, where James Brown was a mainstay during two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
The Hurricanes found no answers at tailback. Five players combined for 22 yards on 11 carries, but D.J. Webb showed poise at quarterback.
Before the third quarter, PHU coaches corrected a flaw in Webb's throwing motion, and it paid off. After forcing Tarpon into a three-and-out to start the quarter, PHU took over at its own 41-yard line.
On third and 8, Webb found Braulio Fulp for a 16-yard gain and a first down. Three plays later, on another third-and-8, Webb again hit Fulp on a crossing route for a 39-yard touchdown.
"Webb has done a good job. He's come in with the attitude that he's the man that has to be beat out, which is probably the case," PHU coach Mike June said. "There are some good things there. We've just got to get a lot better."
The game's final touchdown came from Spongers freshman Maurice Current, who ran up the middle from 5 yards out.
Tarpon left the game with one significant injury. Center/defensive lineman Phil Skandaliaris sustained a broken left ankle with 27 seconds left in the second quarter. On the field, however, coach Don Davis said he had few complaints.
"As a whole, it went pretty well," Davis said. "You go for 18 days in this heat, then it's a final exam for us to see how our spring went.
"If I had to grade it, I'd probably give it a B."
Miscues leave Osceola with one-point loss
BRADENTON -- Osceola is not competing in a district next season, but it might want to reconsider that decision after Thursday night's performance.
Playing Bradenton Bayshore, a playoff team last season, the Warriors hung tough in a 14-13 loss.
"I thought we played well," coach George Palmer said. "We just made enough mistakes to lose."
Two fumbles and 140 yards in penalties were the biggest mistakes against the Bruins. Still, despite the miscues, the Warriors had a chance.
Special teams and defense played the biggest role Thursday. Osceola fell behind when Bayshore's Fabian Washington picked up a fumble and ran 57 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Trailing 7-0, the Warriors came alive in the third quarter. Jason Teague took a pitch around the right end and ran 36 yards for a score. Greg Serota followed with the extra point to tie it. On the ensuing kickoff, Mike Thompson recovered a fumble at the 17-yard line. On the next play, Teague went 17 yards on a sweep to score. The extra point was blocked, and Osceola led 13-7.
Bayshore atoned for the fumble as Washington took the kickoff 66 yards at the end of the third quarter. Quarterback John Dume capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. Gabor Sviatko's extra point gave the Bruins the lead. Teague led Osceola. The rising senior rushed for 149 yards on 18 carries.
"He's the equalizer out there," Palmer said. "Hopefully, he can wear down a defense and break open some big gains near the end of games."