CLEARWATER — Countryside entered its Class 5A region quarterfinal with as balanced a team as any in the playoffs.
Junior quarterback Gray Crow has amassed more than 1,000 yards passing, with running back Diomi Roberts nearly matching that total with 991 yards rushing. The defensive backfield has caused fits for opposing quarterbacks with 16 interceptions.
So when the Cougars fell behind 16-7 early in the second quarter due mostly to some bizarre plays — a safety and a fake field goal resulting in a touchdown pass — Countryside coach Jared Davis knew things would right themselves.
“As a coaching staff, we show as much calm on the sideline and this allows the players to do the same,” Davis said after what turned out to be an easy 46-16 victory. “Of course, we laid into them a bit in the locker room, but for the most part we needed them to just relax and get back to doing what they know how to do.”
After the fake field goal, the Cougars (11-0) drove 65 yards in eight plays, highlighted by Terry Johnson’s 4-yard touchdown run that brought Countryside within two. Then, after a bad snap on Brandon’s punt attempt on its next possession, Ryan Halter booted a 28-yard field goal to put the Cougars up to stay.
In the third quarter, after Brandon (9-2) failed to move the ball on its first series, Johnson, who rushed for 30 yards on five carries, capped a 12-play drive with a 6-yard run to put the Cougars up 24-16. The Cougars then earned back the two points when Johnson sacked Brandon’s Tre Polk in the end zone.
Roberts, who rushed for a game-high 114 yards on 21 carries, opened the fourth quarter with a 1-yard score after the Cougars drove 55 yards on nine plays. After an interception by Marriero Taylor that resulted in a 56-yard touchdown, Roberts ended Countryside’s scoring with his second touchdown, an 8-yard run.
Chris Richmond led the Eagles with 112 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.