TARPON SPRINGS — The debate over where you’d rather see Artavis Scott line up if you are a defensive coordinator was finally settled Friday night.
The answer: somewhere outside of city limits; maybe at a McDonald’s somewhere. Or better yet, how about lined up outside a movie theater waiting to buy tickets to, say, a double feature?
Let’s see how many yards and touchdowns he gets with a big box of Sour Patch Kids in one hand and a gallon of soda in the other.
If you let him step on the football field, then there is no real good answer. Whether he lines up at running back or wide receiver or kick returner or defensive back, things probably won’t end well.
Asked his preference if put in the spot as an opposing coach, East Lake coach Bob Hudson shrugged.
“Sheesh, I don’t know,” Hudson said, suggesting there is no answer to the question.
Friday night, Scott did his damage in East Lake’s district-clinching 42-12 win from the backfield, which was exactly where Pinellas Park thought it wanted him.
In the span of four minutes over two quarters, the Clemson oral commitment changed the game, rushing twice for touchdowns.
The first came with 1:36 left in the first, when he raced in from 18 yards to stretch a precarious 14-6 lead to a more comfortable 21-6 halftime edge.
With momentum slowly turning the Patriots’ favor, Scott caught a pass for 27 yards, ran for 14 then scored his touchdown.
That comfortable halftime lead became insurmountable in a hurry. On the third play of the third quarter, Scott dashed for 26 yards. Three more plays later, he went 45 yards for a touchdown.
And that was that.
“I thought that was huge going into halftime,” Hudson said. “We thought if we could get up two scores and stay up two scores and get them out of their comfort zone, that’d be great.”
It was great. Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford, typically verbose and as amusing and smart a quote as you will find, was asked what happened out there. He simply said: “No. 7.”
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The East Lake defense continues to shine without a lot of the credit thanks to the dynamic player above, but it was fantastic Friday.
The Eagles shut down a team that had rushed, according to Hudson, for 1,200 miles coming into the game. (More accurately, it was 3,000 yards, but Hudson was close enough.)
Filling the gaps and executing their assignments, the Eagles shut down running lanes and flew around as usual, holding Pinellas Park to about 300 yards below its season average.
Sophomore linebacker Jake Hansen returned an interception for a touchdown early, and senior Devin Abraham added one late. In between, the Eagles defenders fiercely crashed into Patriots players and slowed them to a crawl.
“We’re just reading our keys and playing fast,” Abraham said. “There is a good kind of recklessness. To play in this defense with coach Claw (Darius Holtzclaw), the way he is, you have to have a couple of screws loose. And most of us have a couple of screws loose, but we’re also smart players.”
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Pinellas Park is now 7-1, and a great season — helped along by a not-so-great schedule — could be reduced to a forgettable one if the Patriots don’t put this behind them. Pinellas Park has to beat Countryside next week, or the postseason becomes a premature offseason.
At one point Friday, an assistant coach mused aloud why on the first possession the team’s best player, Pierre Johnson, hadn’t touched the ball.
When he finally did, he was hauling in two long passes and running in a score to make it 14-6.
But Johnson did not touch the ball enough the rest of the way, probably because the Patriots fell further behind and drifted further away from what they do best.
That can’t happen again.
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After Scott’s long touchdown run that put the game away, George Campbell wanted to know one thing: Did you see my block on that play?
I think that might sum up the Eagles best.
It’s not about stats.
It’s about wins.
And even on a team with big-time college recruits and outstanding playmakers, that’s all that really seems to matter to the Eagles.