TAMPA — Among the playoff ramifications in Friday's Class 2A-5 district showdown between Jesuit and Middleton, there was the story of a backup running back and a coaching legend.
Jesuit junior running back Miles Bennett stepped into Middleton's home stadium Friday knowing it would likely be the first and last time he'd get to play there. After all, there aren't many opportunities when an opposing player gets to play at the stadium named after his grandfather, legendary former Middleton and Blake coach Abe Brown.
"I knew it would be my only chance," Bennett said. "I wanted to make it memorable."
So when Bennett steamrolled into the end zone with a third-quarter 12-yard touchdown run that was part of 28 unanswered second-half Jesuit points in the Tigers' 42-17 win over Middleton, he had his moment.
"He's a kid who has an abundance of athletic talent," Jesuit coach Joe Ross said. "What better place to show it than on your granddad's field?"
Brown was at the game — he has been at practically every one of Bennett's since he was in pee wees. Brown sat on the Middleton side for the first half, then went to the Jesuit side for the second half.
With its win, Jesuit (7-1, 4-1) put itself in the driver's seat to earn a playoff berth with a win over St. Petersburg Catholic.
"Tonight I felt like it was a playoff atmosphere," Jesuit senior starting running back Robby Garcia said. "Both teams knew what was at stake."
Garcia took control early, running for 109 of his game-high 151 yards in the first half, but when Garcia sustained a dislocated shoulder, the Tigers turned to Bennett.
"I've been waiting for my chance for it seems like forever," said Bennett, who ran for 75 yards in Jesuit's 255-yard ground attack. "After that (touchdown) carry, I just felt relieved. I wanted the game to be over right there."
And in the Jesuit stands, a grandfather was proud.
"It was excellent," said Brown, 82. "I've been telling him just to wait his turn, not to rush it, that his time would come with patience."
And there was no better place for forever to arrive.