LARGO — If the 2009 football season had a reset button, Pinellas Park would press it right about the time kicker Justin Cupo lined up for an extra point without his mouthpiece in the Patriots’ 7-6 Week 2 loss to Palm Harbor University.
Or maybe the Patriots would ask for a do over before being flagged for a delay of game penalty at the PHU 3-yard line in the game’s waning seconds, right before Cupo had a potential winning field goal partially blocked.
Of course, Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford would just as soon erase from his memory the inordinate amount of procedure and delay calls his team racked up against PHU in a game the Patriots felt they should have won.
In a season where four of the Patriots’ five losses came by eight points or fewer, the PHU loss still stings on so many levels. Had the Patriots been able to eliminate some of their early-season flaws against the Hurricanes, Pinellas Park likely would have finished the 2009 season with its first winning record since 2003.
It also would have snapped a losing streak to the Hurricanes that dates to 2004.
All of which has the Patriots thinking revenge tonight when they host PHU in a battle between upstart 1-0 teams.
“I remember we weren’t ready for them,” Crawford said. “Just the little things, being disciplined on snap count, jumping offsides. We fooled ourselves. We scored a touchdown and kicked the extra point and it got called back because the kicker had his mouthpiece out. We had to redo it and missed it.”
Behind a physical, hard-hitting defense, the Patriots have become a team that county opponents no longer relish seeing on the schedule. And the offense has picked up immensely under Crawford.
Last week in a season-opening win over Osceola, Pinellas Park scored 42 points. Last season, in Crawford’s first as head coach, Pinellas Park broke the 40-point barrier twice.
In 2008, Pinellas Park scored 50 points total.
For the entire season.
“We’re getting close,” Crawford said. “We’re still a little run heavy, but we’re getting much better at passing.”
And Pinellas Park can continue its ascent toward the top of the county heap with a win over a nemesis that always seems to have the Patriots’ number.
“This is one we want,” Patriots lineman Chris Bonny said. “Last year, that was one of our biggest upsets. To this day, we still talk about it, that missed extra point. That motivates us.”