Cotey: Clearwater Central Catholic shrugs off pressure, and exerts it

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Sat. October 20, 2012 | John C. Cotey | Email

Cotey: Clearwater Central Catholic shrugs off pressure, and exerts it

TAMPA

Clearwater Central Catholic linebacker Branden Junk came after quarterback Brad Mayes on Friday night.

Then, later, he came after him again.

Jordan  Adderley came after Mayes, too.

So did Caanan Brown, and Sawyer Drury and Kyle Brittain and Ethan Thompson.

Fierce, fast and furious.

Then some more:  Adderley again, Junk once more, Brittain, Adderley, Brown, Junk and on and on.

Nine sacks, at least.

Pressure.

So much pressure.

“The defense,” said running back Diquan Walker, “was awesome.”

Only when Mayes was able to escape, in the second half, did Berkeley Prep find any success, and by then it was too late.

CCC 35, Berkeley Prep 21.

Final.

Finally.

“I think this is the first time we’ve scored on them since I’ve been back,” said CCC coach John Davis, who was hired just for games like Friday’s.

The Marauders clinched their first district title since 2005, Davis said, and at least for the moment the Marauders have stemmed the Bucs’ tide.

The past three seasons, Berkeley Prep — with two of the best offensive (Nelson Agholor) and defensive ( Schyler Miles) players in all of Class 3A — had won 19 straight regular-season games and beaten CCC down, scoring 100 points on the Marauders in that span.

It wasn’t ever close.

But graduation has, for the moment, tilted the playing field in CCC’s favor.

The Marauders are the first Tampa Bay team to beat the Bucs since 2007, when CCC won 13-10. But Berkeley Prep went down Friday like a true champion.

The Bucs are younger and smaller and less talented, but trailing 27-0 in the third quarter fought back heroically.

Mayes, who looked panicked in the first half, throwing two costly interceptions, was magical at times in the second.

He avoided the relentless rush and made big throw after big throw. He scrambled for 18 yards on fourth and 17, his eyes on the sticks the whole way, then threw a touchdown pass the next play.

With just over two minutes remaining, it was 29-21 and Berkeley Prep was lining up for an onside kick.

But the miracle never materialized, and for a second, Walker did, then he disappeared down the sideline on third down, scoring from 47 yards to finish off Berkeley Prep.

And finish off what the defense started when it staked CCC to a four-touchdown advantage, including an interception return by Brown thanks to, what else, a wave of Marauder pressure.

“Everybody was playing great,” said Junk, who had at least three of the CCC sacks. “We had a good week of practice. We had some checks for the formations they had and basically we went hard on them tonight.”

Junk went hard. Jordan Adderley, too.

And Brown, and Drury, and Brittain, and Thompson.

Fierce, fast and furious.

And then, finally.

John C. Cotey can be reached at cotey@tampabay.com
 

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