LARGO — Fort Meade came to town Friday night, and we are pleased to report that the city of Largo did not burn to the ground.
The women and children were out in the open, working the concession stand, cheering and snapping pictures.
And the Indian Rocks Christian football team?
They are still in one piece, thanks for asking.
The Golden Eagles didn't win Friday, but no really one thought they would, even if the 15-2 final score was a whole bunch closer than many expected.
This was, after all, Fort Meade, which:
• Has now won 34 straight games against Pinellas County schools.
• Has allowed just one team in those 34 games— Northside Christian last year— to break double digits.
• Has 18 shutouts in the 34 games.
• Has outscored Indian Rocks 374-28 during the streak.
• Has a bus driver unwilling to accept a bribe to make a wrong turn and "accidentally" end up in, say, Pahokee. (I refuse to accept that the offer has never been made by one of the county's coaches.)
So yeah, while most coaches will give you the stink eye for suggesting a moral victory, Indian Rocks coach Mark Buchanan reluctantly accepted it after his team's gutsy effort.
"We're disappointed,'' he said. "We were right there,'' and if not for one long 93-yard touchdown run he is right.
Some of the current flock of Golden Eagles were still wearing Pull-ups to bed at night when, 10 years and two weeks ago today, Jesse Stein rallied Shorecrest to the last win by a county team over the Miners.
Shorecrest trailed Fort Meade 13-7 that night, had been outgained 293 yards to 54 and had only four first downs when Stein picked off a Miner pass and ran it back 88 yards to tie it with 60 seconds to go. His extra point gave the Chargers a 14-13 victory.
Since Stein's heroics, Shorecrest is 0-8 against Fort Meade, has scored just 28 points and lost its past four meetings by a combined 228-8. Which is two more points than Admiral Farragut has scored in six games against Fort Meade.
You get the point.
So when the Eagles were trailing 7-2 midway through the fourth quarter and sitting on the Fort Meade 25, you couldn't help but wonder …maybe …
"We were close,'' said senior running back Jonny Sitton. "One block away.''
The Eagles nearly rode Sitton, the fire-haired whippet who carried the ball 27 times for 93 of the hardest yards of his life, to an improbable upset. The Eagles continually drove into Miner territory, but never struck gold.
"It's the first time we've been tested all year,'' said Fort Meade coach Mike Hayde. "We have never been tested over here in Pinellas County the way Indian Rocks tested us.''
Hayde said his Miners, now winners of the district 10 straight years, haven't been as tested in league play since 2004.
The Golden Eagles didn't beat Fort Meade Friday night, but they can take solace in the score and Hayde's words.
"I'm sure they expected to come in here and run all over us,'' Sitton said. "But we put it all out there, gave it everything we had. They have a great team. Hopefully, we'll get another chance.''