They started off by playing one another in one of the most anticipated matchups of the season. • Now, Clearwater Central Catholic and East Lake are the only county teams left standing in the playoffs. • The Marauders (11-1) are in the state semifinals for the second time in school history by relying on a devastating running game and suffocating defense. The Eagles (11-1) are in the region finals for the second straight season thanks to a high-powered passing game and a bend-but-don't-break defense. • This week comes the hard part. Both play teams ranked No. 1 in their classifications. CCC hosts Fort Lauderdale University School, which beat defending Class 3A state champion Delray American Heritage in the region finals. East Lake travels to play Orlando Dr. Phillips, which knocked off defending Class 8A state champion Plant in the region semifinals.
Offensive player of the week
Trey Larry, CCC: The senior, who has a knack for producing big plays, had another against Tampa Catholic. Trailing 7-0 in the third quarter, Larry took a pitch and raced 54 yards for a score. He finished with 105 yards on six carries.
Defensive player of the week
George Campbell, East Lake: Known more as a receiver, Campbell had game-turning plays on defense, scoring on two fumble recoveries. In the third quarter, he scooped a fumble and raced 95 yards for a touchdown and a 22-7 lead against Vero Beach.
Jake Shade, CCC: A former starting quarterback, Shade has made significant contributions on defense. He had an interception and broke up two passes in the second half against Tampa Catholic.
CCC coach John Davis said it appears FB Domenic James' knee injury could be a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"We won't know for sure until Domenic sees a doctor on Monday," Davis said. "But it doesn't look good. I don't think there's any way we'll get him for this week."
James' first-half injury against Tampa Catholic was a blow considering the Marauders relied on James heavily in the running game and on play-action passes.
"We struggled for a while because we had to make a lot of adjustments with Domenic not being in there," Davis said. "I thought Ethan Thompson really did a great job filling in at fullback and playing on both sides of the ball."
Davis said he expects DB Michael Stevenson to return from a concussion this week.
By the numbers
0 Number of times East Lake QB Pete DiNovo had not run or passed for a touchdown in a game before this past week's game against Vero Beach.
0 Number of state semifinal games played at Clearwater Central Catholic before this Friday. The Marauders will host Fort Lauderdale University School in the first state semifinal ever played at CCC.
2 Consecutive years East Lake has played in the Class 8A region final. The Eagles lost to Plant last year in overtime.
14 Combined point deficit in Lakewood's two losses to Robinson (18-7 in the regular season and 22-19 in the Class 5A region semifinals).
124 Total yards allowed by Orlando Dr. Phillips in its 24-7 win over Plant. Dr. Phillips hosts East Lake this week.
"The guys played well, but I hated it went down to a spot. If (Robinson) didn't jump, I was going to call timeout. (The officials) didn't give me timeout, and it was a horrible spot." — Cory Moore, Lakewood coach, after Tracy Johnson's sneak was stopped on fourth and 1 from its own 40 with 2:41 left and leading 19-14 at Robinson. Moore claimed he called timeout after trying to get Robinson to jump offside, but it wasn't granted.
"I was nervous for sure, but the snap and hold were perfect. All that was left was for me to do my job. Once the kick went in, it was the most amazing feeling ever." — Matt Fosnacht, CCC kicker, on his 32-yard winning field goal to beat Tampa Catholic 10-7.
Although Lakewood failed to reach the third round of the playoffs, it is worth noting how much the Spartans accomplished. Lakewood beat Jesuit for the first time in school history to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2009. The Spartans also beat rival St. Petersburg for the first time in five years.