After his team started last fall with two double-digit, non-district wins over Wiregrass Ranch and St. Petersburg Catholic, Wesley Chapel coach Ben Alford thought his team got a little too confident heading into a district showdown with Zephyrhills.
The Wildcats struggled in a deflating 38-16 defeat.
“I don’t want that to happen again,” Alford said.
So Alford beefed up his competition, bringing in Orlando First Academy, which won a district title last season and received votes in the latest Associated Press Class 3A state poll.
The Wildcats will be tested but have reasons to be confident after being held without a three-and-out in a season-opening 30-6 win over rival Wiregrass Ranch. Daquan Caesar was one of Class 5A’s leading rushers after running for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Nathan Love added 40 yards and a touchdown and blocked for most of Caesar’s 34 carries.
“We stuck with what was good,” Alford said of a ground game that racked up 238 yards on 49 attempts.
Wesley Chapel’s defense was equally impressive. Wiregrass Ranch’s only spurt of offense was a 27-yard pass from Shane Bucenell to Ryan Shea.
Kudiel Gomez, Mark LaBarbera and Nalu Freticelli helped contain the Bulls after that breakdown. The Wildcats tallied 4.5 sacks, a safety and the school’s first defensive touchdown – a fumble recovery by Josias Vizcano – in more than a season.
“Our defense is our staple,” Alford said.