Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Football: Clearwater Central Catholic 7, Miami Westminster Christian 0

CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic and Miami Westminster Christian displayed fancy formations and explosive playmakers, all founded on run production.

And no one had a more memorable carry in Friday's Class 3A state semifinal than the Marauders' Diquan Walker. With 39 seconds remaining in a scoreless game, the senior running back took a pitch, followed a convoy of blockers and dove just inside the pylon on a 23-yard touchdown to lift CCC to a 7-0 victory.

The Marauders (11-2) advance to their first state championship game and will play Jacksonville Trinity Christian (11-1) on Dec. 7 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

"It was the scariest play of my life," Walker said. "I didn't think anything would be there. But I had great blocking and it turned out to be the greatest moment I've ever had."

Both teams ran the ball with vigor throughout the game. Lineman and linebackers stepped forward to stop them. Even pass defenders were cheating toward the line of scrimmage in support of run defense.

It was basic, old-school football that featured big-time runners who had a hard time gaining any traction. CCC's best play of the second half came at the end when it drove from its 44-yard line to Westminster's 23.

At the time, Davis was thinking more about pounding the ball up the middle to grind up a few yards, as well as most of the clock before settling on a potential winning field goal.

But after a timeout, he decided to take a chance with the sweep.

"I honestly didn't think I was going to get the ball at the end," Walker said. "I thought we were just playing for the field goal. But Coach is an all-or-nothing kind of guy and he went big there and it paid off."

In the first half the Marauders wasted their best scoring opportunity when Jeff Smith rolled out on first and goal from the 5-yard line and threw an interception in the end zone.

"It was tough because I made a big mistake," Smith said. "But I knew not to get down because my teammates would have my back."

The defense was particularly big in stopping a Westminster team that entered averaging 40 points and 467 yards per game. CCC allowed just 177 yards and held the Warriors scoreless for the first time all season.

Westminster quarterback Hunter Boyett, who had thrown for 2,767 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, was 5-of-16 for 38 yards Friday night.

Boyett couldn't stay comfortable in the pocket due to a fierce pass rush by the Marauders, who recorded four sacks — two by defensive lineman and Florida recruit Justus Reed.

It was the defense that came through — again — after Walker scored. Westminster got the ball back at its 33-yard line with 33 seconds remaining. Boyett threw two incomplete passes before being intercepted on third down by Blake Gomez, CCC's former starting quarterback who moved to receiver and was playing defensive back at the end of game in place of an injured Demetri Royer (broken collarbone).

"It felt like the ball just came down from heaven," Gomez said. "JT (Steele) made a great play and the ball fell into my hands. I couldn't ask for a better way to end a game like this."

All the Marauders had to do after that was to take a knee — then celebrate.

The win means CCC coach John Davis will be in his first state championship game in his 20th season as a head coach in Pinellas County.

"I'm walking on a cloud right now," Davis said. "This is the dream of every kid or coach who has ever been involved in high school football. I'm just so fortunate to have the opportunity to get there.

"But this moment isn't for me. It's for these kids. We may not be the best team. But this team has heart and gave everything it had to win this game."

Football: Clearwater Central Catholic 7, Miami Westminster Christian 0 11/30/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 30, 2013 12:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  2. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Blake Snell’s struggles on the mound were only one of the reasons the Rays sent him to the minors; some other red flags existed. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Ryne Stanek has had his early struggles, but Wednesday he showed his high-octane potential, working around a one-out walk to strike out the mighty Mike Trout (on a 98.4 mph fastball) and legendary Albert Pujols (98.7), both swinging.

  4. Rays journal: More bullpen changes as Diego Moreno heads to DL

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays bullpen has another new look.

    Rays reliever Diego Moreno, pitching Sunday against the Yankees, heads the DL with shoulder bursitis.
  5. ACC baseball tournament: FSU beats Notre Dame on 12th-inning HR

    Colleges

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jackson Lueck hit his second two-run home run of the game in the 12th inning, lifting Florida State past Notre Dame 5-3 on Wednesday at a rainy ACC baseball tournament.

    Florida State outfielder Jackson Lueck (2) connects for a game-winning home run in the 12th inning during game 4 of the 2017 ACC Baseball Tournament in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (Wade Payne/theACC.com via AP)