CLEARWATER — The youth movement at East Lake took another step toward maturity Friday as the Eagles turned in an impressive 38-18 win over Clearwater.
“There’s times when I have to remind myself to stop thinking about next year and concentrate on these games right now,” East Lake coach Bob Hudson said. “It’s real fun to be able to see these guys play and develop.”
Most of East Lake’s key players are underclassmen and they demonstrated their prowess in front of Clearwater’s fans in a key district win. Junior running back Tyler Lane had 152 yards on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Junior fullback Tyler Carbonelli rushed for 61 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Pete DiNovo, who was playing with a heavy heart after learning of his grandfather’s death, passed for 83 yards.
But the key player of the game was freshman Artavis Scott, whose return game on kickoffs and punts helped the Eagles start each of their scoring drives near midfield or deep into Clearwater territory.
“Oh, he’s a difference maker, for sure,” Hudson said.
The Tornadoes (3-1, 0-1) scored first when Clearwater quarterback Ryan Hagen hooked up with John Hogan on a 32-yard reception. On the ensuing kickoff, Scott ran the ball back to the Clearwater 45-yard line and a few plays later, Lane tallied his first score with a 8-yard run.
After Clearwater’s next possession, Scott ran the punt back to the Tornadoes’ 48-yard line, then Carbonelli scored on East Lake’s first play from scrimmage.
The Eagles (3-1, 1-0) held a 21-10 lead at halftime and seemed as if they would be caught by the Tornadoes after Clearwater’s Bennie Niles scored on a 5-yard run midway through the third quarter. But the Eagles scored the final 17 points, including DiNovo’s 2-yard run minutes before the end of the third quarter, which followed a 32-yard highlight reel run by Lane.
“It’s real nice to be playing the way we are now,” Lane said. “Last week, we threw the ball and this week, we just went back to punching it up the middle and hitting the holes. We’re coming together as a team and things are looking good.”