By BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001
CLEARWATER -- It was late in the fourth quarter, and Clearwater Central Catholic coach John Davis started to get worried.
It was not the eight-point lead his team was clinging to against Tallahassee North Florida Christian that had him concerned, though.
It was the availability of the Marauders' do-it-all player, Mike Scanlon.
"What's Mike's status?" Davis asked his assistant coaches.
"He's got a headache, coach," his assistants responded.
Scanlon sat on the bench in the fourth quarter with an ice pack pressed against the back of his neck, a decision team trainers made for precautionary measures.
He was upended while running for a first down and was slow getting up.
Trainers did not want to take chances after Scanlon suffered a concussion the week before.
"My head was ringing, so I sat out for a bit," he said.
Scanlon eventually re-entered the game, but it was a strange twist to see him on the bench. That's because for most of the night, he was the one giving his opponents headaches.
The senior running back was a big-time player in the biggest game in Marauder history.
Scanlon had 161 yards rushing on 21 carries, three receptions for 39 yards and an interception in CCC's 14-6 victory over North Florida Christian, the No. 1 team in Class A that has won three consecutive state titles and four of the past five.
"What can you say about Mike Scanlon?" Davis said. "He just makes plays. He is one of the best backs around."
Scanlon showed he could make plays last season, when he filled in for injured starter James Sommers and ran for a team-high 527 yards and nine touchdowns. He also averaged 11 yards per carry.
This season, he has showed more of his game-breaking capabilities.
In the opener against Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, Scanlon scored three touchdowns, including a 98-yard kickoff return. Scanlon did not score Friday, but he made enough heads-up plays to compensate.
The first one came in the third quarter. Ahead 7-0, Scanlon ran a toss sweep but had a bad exchange with quarterback Orlando Rivas.
Scanlon reacted by picking up the fumble, reversing field and running 23 yards to the Eagles' 1-yard line.
Larue Rumph punched it in from there to put CCC up 14-0.
Then late in the game, with his team ahead by eight, Scanlon made his second big play.
On third-and-1 from the Marauders' 18-yard line, Rivas mishandled a center exchange, and the ball was on the ground for a second.
Scanlon picked it up, spun away from two defenders and dived for a 5-yard gain to prevent disaster.
That sent Scanlon to the bench. But he returned in time to make his final big play, an interception on North Florida Christian's final drive to seal the win.
His play earned the respect of Eagles coach Tim Cokely.
"We knew about No. 19 (Rumph) before the game, but Scanlon is a tough player, too," Cokely said.
"He hurt us in a lot of ways."