Tampa Catholic offensive lineman Corey Martinez has picked over all the things that went wrong in that first game against Clearwater Central Catholic.
The film revealed all of the Crusaders’ offensive inadequacies in that 20-point defeat: missed assignments, lots of confusion and too many penalties.
As a result, the Crusaders were pushed around for the first time all season.
“We made so many mistakes,” Martinez said. “It’s almost funny looking back at it, like, why did we do that?”
If they plan to turn things around in their playoff rematch Friday, Martinez and the Crusaders will have to be the ones doing the pushing.
Tampa Catholic will revisit the site of its most lopsided loss of the season in its Class 3A region semifinal against Clearwater Central Catholic. The Crusaders (8-3) get a chance to redeem themselves against their District 5 rival, which limited them to a fourth-quarter touchdown and 79 yards, only 16 from the arm of quarterback Kyle Ploucher.
Any hope for a turnaround must start with their offensive line. Particularly Martinez, who at 6 foot 4 and 305 pounds looks every bit the college offensive lineman he will be as soon as the fall of 2015.
Martinez, a junior who already boasts scholarship offers from Florida State and Miami among many others, said the Crusaders have been looking forward to getting another shot against the Marauders (10-1).
“We want to get revenge,” he said.
That will be difficult against a defense that is surrendering fewer than seven points a game, including four straight shutouts, and is averaging four sacks and six quarterback hurries.
But it was actually in the second half of that 27-7 loss Oct. 5 that the Crusaders gained confidence that they could move the ball against CCC.
At halftime, coach Bob Henriquez told his team to forget its 24-point deficit and play the second half as if it were starting a new game. The Crusaders outscored CCC 7-3 in the final two quarters and returned to Tampa feeling as if they had finally found a rhythm.
“We’re much better now than we were at that point,” Henriquez said. “That helped us to build our confidence.”
A lot of that confidence comes from Martinez and Christian Freeman, a 6-3, 315-pound senior offensive lineman who played hurt in the first game.
Those two give the Crusaders a better-than-average chance to punch some holes in the Marauders’ smaller but active defensive line.
“I love playing behind those guys,” said Ploucher, who completed only four passes for 16 yards in the first game against CCC. “We’ll be ready for them this time.”