CLEARWATER — Teams need the ball to score and St. Petersburg Catholic wouldn't let Calvary Christian have it until 14 points were in the bank.
The Barons grabbed a lead they did not lose Friday night, putting a damper on the Warriors' homecoming with a 56-21 victory to lock up a berth in the Class 3A playoff for the first time in eight seasons.
After wrapping up an impressive opening drive with the first of two scoring connections between quarterback Jack Sheehan and wideout Chris White, the Barons executed a perfect pooch kick that was recovered by sophomore Tony Jones. Four plays later, Jones matched his uniform number with a 24-yard romp to paydirt to give SPC (6-3, 3-1 in 3A-5) a 14-0 lead before Calvary Christian (5-4, 1-3) got its first touch on offense.
When the Barons pulled off another onside kick to start the second half — again fallen on by Jones — and finished with the second of three TDs from junior Jacquan Fuller (165 of SPC's 527 yards), the lead bulged to 35-7 and the game was over.
"We work on the onside kick every week not knowing if we're going to get to use it," said Barons coach Steve Dudley, who took his squad from two wins to the playoff in three seasons. "This team has had a history of playing pretty good offense but weren't stopping anybody. Now we're dialing up blitzes, getting huge play from lineman Leo Corringon and others, and getting to the quarterback. Kids are really buying into what we're selling."