CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic unveiled its new stadium Friday night with FieldTurf to kick off the school’s 50th anniversary.
Then the Marauders went out and played football the old-fashioned way, relying on a sturdy ground game and stifling defense to beat Dixie Hollins 22-7 in a preseason game.
“We didn’t really want to show a whole lot,” CCC coach John Davis said. “We went with our base offense and stayed pretty vanilla. It’s a preseason game. You’re going to find some things you liked and things you didn’t. We’ll digest it and try to improve from it.”
The Marauders did not want to reveal too much with their season opener against East Lake looming. So CCC stuck with a solid dose of runs between the tackles mixed in with the occasional play-action pass.
DiQuan Walker got most of the work in the Marauders’ ground game, rushing for 70 yards on 16 carries and scoring once on a 2-yard run.
CCC quarterback Blake Gomez looked sharp in the first half, completing 4 of 6 passes for 52 yards. He hit Trey Larry on a 19-yard pass in the corner of the end zone in the second quarter. The Marauders defense, meanwhile, held the Rebels to 31 yards in the first half. CCC also recorded a safety when a snap sailed out of the end zone to lead 16-0 at the half.
Dixie Hollins struggled to move the ball early because several starters on the line missed the first half due to disciplinary reasons. Once the starters up front were inserted in the third quarter, the Rebels got their ground game going. Demondre Lambert, who finished with 81 yards rushing, scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter to make it 16-7.
The Marauders countered as J.T. Steele scored on a 53-yard run. After a missed extra point, CCC led 22-7. The junior varsity squads played in the fourth quarter until Dixie Hollins quarterback Travis Bowman went down hard on a hit and was taken off on a stretcher for precautionary reasons because of a neck injury.
It was the third Rebels quarterback to go down with an injury. Varsity quarterbacks Drew Boylson (concussion) and Tyrie Adams (knee) were out in the first three quarters. Dixie Hollins coach Shannon Brooks said he had another he planned to use as Alex Brown a third-string varsity quarterback, but he went down with a knee injury in practice this week.
With no more quarterback options for the Rebels, the game had to be halted with three minutes remaining.
“We went from not knowing who our quarterback will be this season to not knowing if we have another quarterback on our roster,” Brooks said. “Still, I’m happy with the way we played and being able to match (CCC’s) intensity.”