LARGO — Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford likens his offense to playing an accordion. A run inside is followed by a run outside. Then another run inside, followed by one outside. In and out. In and out.
The accordion strategy worked perfectly against Class 7A, District 9 opponent Countryside on Friday. The Patriots ran over the Cougars, especially in the second half, en route to a 46-10 victory. Pinellas Park (8-1) claimed the district's runnerup spot behind East Lake and will play at Sarasota in the first round of the playoffs.
It is the third straight season Pinellas Park has qualified for the playoffs.
The Patriots gained 302 total yards and scored five rushing touchdowns. Donte Maxson led the way with 127 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
"We call it playing the accordion," Crawford said. "Inside run, outside run, inside run, outside run. We were trying to see how they would adjust and try to pick it up even more in the second half and go. The kids did a good job."
Both teams were playing shorthanded. Countryside was without defensive lineman Steven Czop (right foot injury) and defensive back/running back Mike Johnson (sprained ankle). Pinellas Park played without defensive linemen Raheem Patterson (ankle) and Nate Rivera (suspension) and kicker Marko Manlivic (leg injury).
It looked like the defensive injuries might matter to Pinellas Park early. Countryside scored on its first possession when Dante Satcher ran 25 yards for a touchdown.
But the Patriots came back with a 35-yard touchdown run from Kal-El Williams. After a 35-yard field goal by the Cougars' Martin Turowski, Pinellas Park scored on a 22-yard run by Maxson that made it 16-10 at halftime.
"I mentioned at halftime that the past two years (against Countryside) we went in leading and then in the second half they decided to pick us up and run right at us," Crawford said. "Now it's our turn to do that, and that's what our kids did."
Did they ever. The Patriots scored 30 unanswered points.
Maxson scored on an 80-yard run and converted the two-point conversion to make it 24-10. Then came a 25-yard TD run from Maxson. And just for good measure, quarterback Angel Addison hit Alonzo McCray for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Pinellas Park's last score came on a 5-yard run by Oscee Calhoun. The Patriots converted 4 of 5 two-point play runs.
"We kept running the plays that worked, and we ran them and ran them and ran them," Addison said. "And when they stopped it one way, we just ran it the other way."
Aside from Maxson, Johnson chipped in with 82 rushing yards and Williams had 50, mostly up the middle.
"In the past we always won the first half against Countryside and then they've always come back," Maxson said. "We knew we had to slug it out against them."
Countryside (6-3) was led by Satcher, who had 107 rushing yards and a touchdown.