TAMPA — After starting the season 0-2, Alonso went back to basics on defense and simplified some of its more complicated schemes.
The results have been better than even coach Brian Emanuel could have expected.
The Ravens entered Friday night’s nondistrict matchuup against Plant City on a three-game winning streak, giving up only 13 points combined in those three victories.
And despite playing Plant City without half of its secondary, Alonso continued rolling defensively, holding the Raiders to 10 points and less than 250 yards of total offense in a 27-10 win.
“Our defense has been excellent,” Alonso junior running back Ish Witter said. “We had some guys step in tonight and do a good job. Our defense has stepped up these last four games.”
Witter needed time to get untracked against Plant City but once he did, he picked up yardage in big chunks. With the Ravens ahead 14-3 entering the fourth quarter, Witter carried the ball six times on a nine-play drive that put the Raiders in an insurmountable hole. Witter gained 51 yards on the 80-yard drive and scored from 2 yards out.
The next time Alonso had the ball, Witter raced into the end zone on a 16-yard touchdown run that clinched the victory for the Ravens (4-2).
“I’ve said it since the beginning of the season, Ish is the best back in Hillsborough County,” Emanuel said.
After halftime, Alonso’s Marcus Mosley made an acrobatic catch along the sideline, juggling a long pass from quarterback Brandon Hawkins before corralling it between his legs and juking defenders into the end zone for a 35-yard, highlight-reel touchdown to make it 14-3.
Then, Alonso benefitted from two defensive stops. Plant City (3-3) had first and goal from the 5-yard line, but a personal foul moved the ball to the 20 and a fourth-down pass into the end zone was broken up.
On its next drive, Plant City marched to the Alonso 10-yard line after a 30-yard pass from Nick Rodriguez to Landon Galloway. Rodriguez, though, was sacked on third down, and the Raiders missed an opportunity to get points when a 38-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
“I think that just goes to the character of the team, especially the defense. We don’t stop,” Emanuel said. “These kids make a ton of sacrifices to be football players, and things like that, they just bow their spine and get after it.”
The only negative for the Ravens’ defense came when Plant City’s Jordan Robinson took a handoff and raced untouched down the sideline 66 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Alonso scored the first points, taking the opening drive 71 yards culminated by Hawkins’ 1-yard run on a quarterback sneak.
The Raiders’ Jorge Navarrette kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1:49 to go before halftime to cut into the Ravens’ lead.