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Even at 0-4, Tampa Catholic is still optimistic

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Thu. September 30, 2010 | Eduardo A. Encina

Though the Tampa Catholic football team, a program that has advanced to the state final two of the past three seasons, is still looking for its first win into October, Crusaders coach Bob Henriquez believes the postseason is still a reasonable possibility.

As the Crusaders (0-4) host Deerfield Beach Zion Lutheran (2-2) on Friday, Tampa Catholic is reeling from a 27-10 loss to district favorite Lake Highland Prep, a game Henriquez believes his team should have won.

“I think it’s critically important,” Henriquez said. “We feel like we improved a great deal last week and that we should have won the football game. We’re telling our kids it’s really a six-week season. We’re not talking about our past record or what happened in the beginning of the season. This is an opportunity to get a win and walk into the locker room after playing four quarters of football.”

Last week, Tampa Catholic led 10-7 after three quarters and had a chance to go up by more driving deep into Lake Highland Prep territory, but fumbled. Lake Highland went on to score 20 unanswered points to win, and Tampa Catholic was left to think about missed opportunities.

Henriquez said TC has six red zone opportunities but came away with just 10 points – there was Corbett’s fumble, a turnover on downs and two missed field goals.

But looking ahead after next week’s bye, Henriquez said he sees three more district games against struggling opponents and two rivalry games  -- Clearwater Central Catholic (Oct. 15) and Jesuit (Nov. 11) – that he knows his players will be motivated to win.

“We’re young and inexperienced,” Henriquez said. “If we don’t turn ball over and cash in on some opportunities, we’re sitting at 3-1 this season. When you’re young and you haven’t learned how to win yet, you’re not going to know how to handle pressure situations.”

But Henriquez believes the Crusaders have made strides. He’s handed the quarterback reins to freshman QB Chivarsky Corbett, a lean 6-foot-3 athlete who reminds you a little of former TC All-American Christian Green. The better Corbett (who is doubtful for this week’s game with a shoulder sprain) gets, the more it allows QB/WR Conner Louis to move back to wide receiver, where he is at his best.

The improvement of sophomore tailbacks Jordan Rich-Rogers and Trevor Register has allowed UF commit Hunter Joyer to move back to his true position at fullback. And on defense, linebacker Aaron Buckley and tackle Taylor Timmons are growing into their own. Key linebackers Zach Dyer and Carson Bomar should be back from lengthy injuries after the bye.

“When we start winning, I don’t think we’re going to stop for a long time,” Henriquez said.

-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (eencina@sptimes.com; Twitter: @EddieHometeam)

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