LAND O’LAKES — Defense stole the show Friday as Sunlake held off a late charge by Steinbrenner to take the preseason classic 8-6.
The host Seahawks held the Warriors to just 84 total yards on offense, which impressed coach Bill Browning.
“We played a quality opponent and a school with about 600 more students than us that plays Hillsborough County competition,” Browning said. “We’ll take it. I thought our defense played very well.”
It didn’t take long for Sunlake to get rolling in the first quarter. Junior linebacker Jacob Guzman intercepted a pass from Steinbrenner quarterback Quentin Poteralski four minutes in and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Nathan Johnson then added a 2-point conversion to give the Seahawks an 8-0 lead.
Sunlake held Steinbrenner scoreless until the fourth quarter when Cody Burgess caught two straight passes for 28 and 14 yards, setting up an 18-yard touchdown pass to Justin Moffatt from Poteralski with 10:44 left. However, the Warriors’ attempt to tie the game with a 2-point-conversion failed as Guzman and the Seahawks held on the rest of the way.
Despite the loss, Steinbrenner coach Andres Perez-Reinaldo said he’s optimistic after his defense slowed Sunlake’s rushing attack and held quarterbacks Esteban LeWallen and Dayton Feiden to just 27 passing yards.
“They pitched a shutout,” he said. “That’s something we’ve preached as 11 guys flying to the football and we saw that.”