MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Looking for a local dark horse pick to make a deep run into the playoffs?
Look no further than Tampa Bay Tech (7-3), which hosts an injury-depleted Brandon team tonight in a 7A region quarterfinal game at 7:30 p.m.
No other area playoff team has played in as many tight games as the Titans, who flew under the radar with a 3-3 start. In fact, TBT lost its first game of the season to at home to Newsome thanks to a 28-yard, Hail Mary-esque pass that set up the Wolves’ winning score with less than a minute remaining.
Two weeks later, the Titans were pounded 40-7 by Armwood. Two weeks after that, they were shut out 36-0 by Plant.
But those are distant memories now.
“Those games like Newsome, where we were so close and we fell just a bit short, those experiences, these kids took that throughout the season,” head coach Jayson Roberts said last week. “They learned from that. Those tough games, I wouldn’t change our schedule for the world. We played a very front-heavy schedule with the Newsomes and Jeffersons and Plants and Armwoods to prepare us for this end stretch, so when we get in the playoffs, we know what it’s like to play quality football teams.”
TBT is riding a five-game win streak that includes two last-second, character-building wins in a row. Tied 14-14 with the district title on the line against Gaither on Nov. 4, the Titans mounted a 17-play, 87-yard drive on their final possession, and kicker Austin Miller nailed a 24-yard field goal to win the game and title 17-14.
Last week against Plant City, Raiders quarterback Bennie Coney put on an aerial show that culminated in a one-handed touchdown grab on a fade route by Antwan Armstrong that gave them the lead with seven minutes left in the game. Undeterred, TBT marched down the field on yet another game-winning drive, this one 80 yards, that ate up all but seven seconds of the game clock.
How important was that 31-28 victory over non-playoff bound Plant City? By the use of the transitive property, it was “huge” according to Roberts.
“The win was the big thing because now these guys are going to be full of confidence,” Roberts said. “These guys are going to be playing against the team (Brandon) that just beat this team (Plant City) that we beat. And you kind of start doubting yourself if you say, ‘well, these guys beat them and we didn’t, and now we have to play them, so I think it was huge for us to get this win.”
Confidence, talent, luck, these Titans have it all. Consider this your opportunity to jump on the bandwagon before it pulls out of the station.