Friday, September 21, 2018

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Cornelius McKenzie and Cameron Fitzpatrick

HomeTeam Hot Shots

Cornelius McKenzie, Gibbs

In the second game of the season, the Gladiators lost 51-35 to Charlotte. On the long bus ride back to St. Petersburg, football coach Antonio Knox wasn't entirely disappointed. They may have lost, but Knox had found his quarterback.

McKenzie, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound freshman, threw for more than 400 yards and five touchdowns in the loss. It not only gave Knox confidence, but McKenzie as well.

"It really did," McKenzie said. "I took a lot of hits and learned that everything happens really fast up here. But I also knew that I could do it."

Since the Charlotte game, two games have been cancelled and there were two more losses. But McKenzie took over in the second quarter against Boca Ciega last week and helped lead the Gladiators to their first win of the season. He threw two touchdowns and ran for 74 yards in a 28-14 win.

"It felt great to get that first win," he said. "But I also felt like I could do better."

Gibbs has used three other quarterbacks, but McKenzie has thrown a bulk of the passes, completing 58 percent. It is likely McKenzie will remain the starter, aside from a few Wildcat formations, the rest of the season.

Playing against seniors took some getting used to, but it's not that big of an adjustment.

"I've always played up," McKenzie said. "I'm used to playing against older players. They're big and fast, but you just have to stay away from them."

Cameron Fitzpatrick, Clearwater Central Catholic

Fitzpatrick has been playing volleyball for as long as she can remember. She is winding down a four-year career on varsity as one of only two seniors on the team. As expected, she is the leader in kills with 185. When the Marauders need a point, it's a sure bet the 5-foot-9 Fitzpatrick is going to get the ball.

Last season, she had 328 kills and was the Times' Pinellas Player of the Year. With her talent, Fitzpatrick always figured she would play volleyball in college. She had no idea her journey would end in Minot, N.D. After going through the recruiting process and thinking she wanted to stay close to home, Fitzpatrick decided to visit Minot State University.

She liked head coach Dana Cordova, and once she visited the campus, she was sold.

"The coach was very energetic and she said she really wanted me to come up there," Fitzpatrick said. "Honestly, I had no idea where it was. But once I got there I absolutely loved it.

With her college decision behind her, Fitzpatrick is focused on finishing her final season on a high note. The Marauders have struggled a bit this season and are 8-5 with one week of the regular season remaining. They play in a very competitive district that has five teams with winning records.

Fitzpatrick said this team may be young, but they have improved.

"It's been a very fun season," she said. "We didn't really know each other that well to start the season but we've all worked very hard and they have become like little sisters to me. They are my best friends."


Football: St. Petersburg 23, Gibbs 6

ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg’s Aumhryaun Brown’s two touchdowns helped overcome the ejection of quarterback Tonio Shavers as the Green Devils cruised to a 23-6 win against Gibbs on Friday.As time expired during the first half, with the Green Devil...
Updated: 9 minutes ago

Football: Plant City 24, East Bay 7

GIBSONTON — Plant City’s high-powered passing game gets most of the attention. But the Raiders’ defense is just as responsible for the team’s unbeaten start.In Plant City’s 24-7 road victory against East Bay in Class 7A, District 9 on Friday, the def...
Updated: 15 minutes ago

Football: Sickles 7, Freedom 3

TAMPA — Sickles needed a goal-line stand late in the fourth quarter to escape Freedom 7-3 on Homecoming and remain in the hunt for a Class 7A, District 8 title.Gryphons coach Patrick Murphy knew that facing the Patriots would be a battle. Freedom (1-...
Updated: 19 minutes ago

Football: Clearwater Central Catholic 38, Northeast 17

ST. PETERSBURG — Championship caliber teams don’t cut themselves any slack.Just ask senior quarterback Rory Hicks, a tough grader moments after visiting Clearwater Central Catholic rolled out its textbook offensive precision to subdue Northeast, 38-1...
Updated: 23 minutes ago

Football: Wesley Chapel 48, Gulf 7

NEW PORT RICHEY — Welcome to the Jelani Vassell show. The Wesley Chapel junior entered Friday night’s game leading Pasco County in touchdowns with seven. Before the first quarter ended against Gulf, he had added three more as the Wildcats eventually ...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Rays journal: Carlos Gomez says ump should’ve been ejected

Rays journal: Carlos Gomez says ump should’ve been ejected

TORONTO — After unleashing a Twitter rant criticizing umpire Andy Fletcher's work behind the plate Thursday, Rays OF Carlos Gomez doubled down on his comments, saying he was even more upset about how Fletcher treated him when questioning a thir...
Updated: 25 minutes ago

Football: Wiregrass Ranch 42, Wharton 6

TAMPA — The Wiregrass Ranch Bulls football team has been struggling on offense the last two weeks heading into Friday’s District 7A-8 game against Wharton High. The Bulls had scored a total of 19 points the last two games after averaging 30.5 the fir...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Rays bounce back big after a debacle

Rays bounce back big after a debacle

TORONTO — The way the Rays played Friday — all nine innings, lesson learned — in beating the Jays 11-3 provided the best answer on how, or even if, they could rebound from the crushing loss the night before that all but ended their ...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Friday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Friday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Mallex Smith has his moments in the outfield, but he can produce highlights. He made two dazzling catches Friday. On one he went running and sliding across the foul line; on the other he crashed into the rightfield wall, though twisting his right ank...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Football: Dixie Hollins 43, Dunedin 6

ST. PETERSBURG — A 14-point halftime lead by Dixie Hollins become a blowout as the Rebels took big chunks of yardage through the air and on the ground in the second half to stifle visiting Dunedin, 43-6.The Rebels got on the board late in the first q...
Updated: 1 hour ago