TAMPA — Boca Ciega crossed the bay looking to secure a postseason spot Friday night, and 27 raucous fans followed them across the water into something called the Citrus Park area.
It should be noted, however, that total was a kickoff number, and by halftime, the crowd had nearly doubled.
But not quite.
If you're wondering why more wouldn't make the trip for to cheer on this plucky group of Pirates, who play a fun brand of football and had a chance to clinch a playoff spot — have we mentioned that yet? — maybe consider this:
That's a heckuva long drive home — and with the chance of getting stuck in U2 traffic to boot — after a painful, gut-wrenching and season-dousing 31-28 loss in overtime to Sickles.
Otherwise, it was a great game to fill the gas tank for, and the Bogie cheerleaders stood close enough to the Pirates' bench to actually make it sound like someone other than the players cared.
With the loss, the Pirates (1-1 in the district) will have to beat 2-0 Largo, not nearly the impossible feat of years past, but still it seems rather unlikely.
And Sickles (1-1) should beat Leto.
That will probably leave Bogie on the outside, face pressed against the glass, wanting to play just one more football game.
If they had played just one more half Friday, that would be happening.
The Pirates built a 22-7 lead after two quarters, thanks to a long kickoff return by Emmerson Clarke and a 51-yard touchdown catch by Gekarro McCall (right off a Sickles player's hands, just to show you how the night was tilting toward the Pirates), and then one more touchdown pass by Shaquille Bradford, a 27-yard strike Tyree Green.
"Just trying to stay under the radar," coach Stevie Thomas said slyly, as the second half kickoff sailed into the air.
But the Pirates, with one exception, went backward in the second half as their line was overwhelmed by a wave of determined Gryphons.
Sickles quarterback John Melvin Hendrick threw a touchdown pass in between two Pirate defenders to make it 22-14.
Then he ran 68 yards untouched to make it 22-20.
The Bogie defense seemed to be laying back, ceding the outside, playing with a cushion, and the Pirate offense wasn't playing much differently.
They managed one drive, to stem the Gryphons' tide. Twice, Bradford hooked up with Bobby Coston on fourth-down passes, the second one a 13-yard score to make it 28-22.
Which, by the way, reminds me: if a school the size of Boca Ciega has a soccer team, then the football team should have a kicker.
Bogie has a soccer team.
They gave up good field position all night on kickoffs, and had to go for two after every score.
Unless Bogie does not have a boys soccer team.
Otherwise, that's pretty unacceptable.
Sickles has a soccer team. And Andres Vasquez plays for it.
He also gets to play football.
In overtime, after Bradford threw an interception in the end zone — and really, what choice did Bogie have but to throw the end zone since it had no one to kick a field? — Vasquez kicked a 17-yard field goal to win the game.
Bogie didn't lose the game because it doesn't have a kicker. But it was one of the reasons, and at the very least one that's easier to fix that making 300-pound offensive lineman show up at Thomas' front door.
I wonder if that's how the other 30 or so people saw it.