Make us your home page

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

  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …