TAMPA — The versatility of Sickles senior and Clemson oral commit Ray Ray McCloud III, the No. 1 player in the HomeTeam 100, was on full display in a preseason matchup at Tampa Catholic.
McCloud ran for a touchdown, caught a pass for another score and set up the Gryphons’ final touchdown with a fourth-quarter interception in a 19-6 victory.
“I’m a weapon on offense, but I know I can play defensive back at the next level as well,” McCloud said.
“I’ve been working on that this offseason, and I’m locking my side up.”
Sickles took the opening kickoff and drove 62 yards in nine plays, capped by McCloud’s 22-yard touchdown run on an option play. McCloud rushed for 71 yards on 10 carries, all during the first half.
Tampa Catholic answered on its first possession. The Crusaders marched 84 yards in eight plays, capped by a 16-yard carry by receiver Nate Craig out of the wildcat formation. Craig produced the pivotal play early in the drive, catching a pass from Tyler Sims (6-for-10, 83 yards) and racing 41 yards into Sickles territory. The Gryphons led 7-6 after the extra point was no good.
Sickles extended its advantage to 13-7 midway through the second quarter when on fourth and 4 from the Crusaders 27, quarterback Isaac Holder floated a pass down the left sideline to McCloud, who ran underneath the ball and tiptoed inbounds for a touchdown.
“Tampa Catholic has a really good defense,” said Holder, who was 7-of-10 for 110 yards. “We just came out, executed, ran our plays we run every day in practice and just tried to get better for next week.”
With the Crusaders trying to mount a tying drive in the fourth, McCloud picked off a pass from Kevin Knox (5-for-15, 39 yards), who split time at quarterback with Sims, and returned it 28 yards to the Crusaders 22. One play later, Holder rolled to his right and found Dillon O’Connor open in the end zone.
“We’ve been doing more conditioning since I’ve been in high school this year,” McCloud said. “We lost a lot of key players last year.
“But I think we have a chance to have a great team. It’s going to be a fun season.”