Cotey: This Largo team has nothing to prove

LARGO – If you need to know one thing about this year's version of the Largo football team, it's this:

The duck quacks and gets smacked.

Or something like that.

I'm not sure I even know what that means, but in the preseason, after I asked running back Marcel Durham about living up to the expectations of last year's team, he looked me right in the eye and said it.

Followed by "Sir," of course, because Durham is not only a speedy little back, he's a polite one.

Friday night, after the Packers disposed of St. Petersburg's dream season with a thorough 30-0 thrashing of the overmatched Green Devils, Durham explained that from Day One this season, they heard the ducks quacking about this year's team.

You might have been one.

And you, too.

Oh yeah, and hey, you over there, in the long-sleeve blue shirt, who just headbutted a player wearing a helmet and is now bleeding from the forehead, that's gotta be Daffy Duck, right?

Oops. Sorry. Just assistant coach Jeremy Frioud.

Where was I?

"A lot of people were saying we weren't as good as last year's team, that we would never live up to it, sir,'' said Durham, but look around.

One assistant coach was on the phone getting a live report from another game.

Once he got the final score, a woman packing up the concession stand was told she'd be unpacking next week because the Packers had another home playoff game.

And Durham was ignoring his cell phone, which wouldn't stop ringing, likely with congratulatory calls for the three touchdowns he scored, to go with the five he had last week.

Yep, as much as things change in Largo, they stay the same: the Packers are the last team standing in Pinellas County, headed for another region final, and Frioud is bleeding from his forehead.

So keep comparing, if you must. It stopped hurting the Packers' feelings a long time ago.

"The guys kind of took it personally,'' said coach Rick Rodriguez, who in a preseason meeting sought to assure the guys this year had nothing to do with the last.

His players beat him to the punch.

"They told me: Coach, we ain't worried about last year's team,' '' Rodriguez said. "The team, they told me that right away.''

Largo never ran from last year's great team, because a lot of this year's team — Mike Marry and Sean Holte — were a big part of that squad, which went 13-1.

Instead, they embraced it, and then had it ironed onto T-shirts

"Unfinished Business"

Largo couldn't replace Brynn Harvey, Pinellas County's all-time single season rushing champ, with one guy. So they use two — Durham and Holte, who each hit 100 yards against St. Petersburg's stingy defense.

And Leonard Johnson was irreplaceable, so how about something different, like wide receiver Mike Lang — who had the two biggest plays on Largo's first two scoring drives — emerging as a star and making new quarterback Ryan Eppes better?

And that defense? Well, seems nothing at all has changed there.

Coming into Friday's game, St. Petersburg was No. 1, having allowed fewer points than the Packers.

After the 30-0 rout, Largo is now clearly No. 1.

"We wanted to reverse that,'' Marry said, looking back at the scoreboard, and for emphasis, adding, "Do-nut!"

This year's team may not be as good as last year's team. Or they may be better.

Durham says who cares.

Whereas last year's team relied on a few, this year's team relies on many. They have six legitimate weapons, all with speed, all capable of breaking a big play. After consecutive years of 2,000-yard rushers, they didn't even have anyone break 1,000 in the regular season.

Why?

Didn't need to.

"We don't even depend on just those six, sir,'' Durham said. "I think it's the whole 11 that's out there. If you look at it, I can't score without those men in front me. The receivers can't score without the quarterback getting time. Whoever is on that field, sir, that's the biggest part of this team.''

This team. Keeping alive this tradition, Friday's tradition, winning playoff games.

If there's any doubters still remaining, a few stragglers who still don't think Largo sits atop the county throne and may for a long time, and you see Durham headed your way, I have one word for you:

Duck!

Cotey: This Largo team has nothing to prove 11/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 7:55pm]

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