Clearwater Central Catholic’s CJ Cotman can run forward as fast as he wants for as long as he wants. It is making the cuts necessary to play running back and receiver that are preventing him from being as explosive as he wants to be.
The freshman, who has become one of the Marauders’ most dynamic playmakers, has battled a turf toe injury for more than a month. He saw limited action in CCC’s Class 3A region final win over rival St. Petersburg Catholic last week, but is expected to play more against Miami Westminster Christian in tonight’s state semifinal.
“It’s a tough injury to try to heal,” coach John Davis said. “CJ was able to move around a little bit better this week, but I know it still hurts him quite a bit.”
When Cotman is able to play he has been electric, scoring rushing touchdowns in two of the past three games.
“CJ will be fine as soon as the game starts and make some really big plays for us,” Davis said. “But then his toe starts to bother him and he needs to rest. Hopefully he can be in there as much as possible this week because we’ll need all the help we can get.”
Friday morning turkey trot
Indian Rocks Christian knows it has to be sharp tonight against Hialeah Champagnat Catholic. The Golden Eagles will be taking no chances before the game.
They have scheduled a morning practice, mainly to get all of the turkey out of their system.
“You guys probably think I’m crazy,” assistant coach Jerry Wunsch, a former Wisconsin Badger and Tampa Bay Bucs offensive lineman, told his team after Monday’s practice. “But those tryptophans in the turkey make you lazy. You’ve got to work that stuff out of your system."
Champagnat is a tough one for most people to pronounce.
Here’s how you do it: Sha-Pahn-Nya.
Now try it three times really fast.
Champagnat’s biggest regular-season win was 22-7 over Westminster Christian, CCC’s opponent tonight, and the Lions enter the state semifinal with 11 wins.
That total, however, is equal to the wins of seven of the Lions other opponents — combined.
Champagnat played two 0-10 teams, three 1-9 teams and two other teams that won just twice.
In back-to-back weeks, the Lions beat two teams that were outscored a combined 1,063-111.
Last year, CCC’s defense had zero tolerance for foes, recording a school-record seven shutouts and allowing just seven points.
The Marauders have not been as stingy this season, with two shutouts and 129 points given up. Part of that is a beefed-up schedule that included five games against teams that made the playoffs.
Another factor is injuries. Several Marauders starters have missed time this year. The biggest blow came in the regular-season finale when defensive back Demetri Royer broke his collarbone.
But the Marauders have patched things up and played well the past two weeks, outscoring their first two playoff opponents a combined 96-16.
Compiled by staff writers Rodney Page, John C. Cotey and Bob Putnam.