CLEARWATER — Midway through the fourth quarter Friday of Clearwater Central Catholic's 20-7 preseason victory over Palm Harbor University, coach John Davis sat on the end of the Marauders' bench next to his resting starters.
Davis, starting his second stint on the Marauders' sideline after eight seasons as head coach at Countryside, was waterlogged and muddy, the result of days of nonstop rain that turned the field into a quicksand-like quagmire.
Chatting with players, a half-grin broke out on Davis' face, partly because of the good-natured ribbing he was giving and taking from his players but mostly because of the score.
Davis sat basking in the atmosphere. He looked content. He was home.
In a game where PHU rested its varsity after halftime and CCC did the same after three quarters, the Marauders jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the break and led 20-0 midway through the fourth quarter before the Hurricanes got on the scoreboard.
"We're going in the right direction," Davis said. "Now, how good we are is yet to be determined. The good news is we've got another week before we play. Anytime you can get a win, I don't care whether it counts or doesn't count, if they turn the scoreboard on, we're going to try to win."
CCC benefited from four PHU turnovers. On CCC's first drive, the Marauders moved the ball on the ground to the PHU 4 before stalling. Blake Myregaard kicked a 21-yard field goal to put CCC up 3-0.
After a PHU turnover on its own 13, Justin Goodloe (16 carries, 82 yards) scampered in from 2 yards out for a 10-0 advantage.
On its first drive of the second half, CCC went ahead 17-0 when sophomore running back Michael Stevenson broke two tackles on his way to a 30-yard touchdown run.
PHU, which took out its first-teamers late in the second quarter according to coach Mark Haye, scored a late touchdown when Jonah Fiskaa bulldozed through the CCC defense from 28 yards out for the 20-7 final.
"I thought our defense came out a little flat in the beginning but stood up to them and had a nice goal-line stand," Haye said. "Offensively, we were able to move the ball, but we turned the ball over too much and had too many dropped passes."