NEW PORT RICHEY — The preseason flatness shown by Gulf and Tarpon Springs in Friday night's first half — when the first-teamers played — may best be quantified by the passing numbers.
Spongers senior Danny Reyes threw for 71 yards, Bucs junior Madison Burr threw for 16, and the officials threw for 135.
Amid the profusion of penalty flags, a hearty Des Little Stadium crowd — undeterred by a one-hour lightning delay to kickoff — saw two promising defenses, if little else, in the Spongers' 15-12 victory.
"We just didn't execute, and that's pretty much the bottom line," said Spongers coach George Kotis, who watched Reyes (5-for-13) and the rest of his first-string offense struggle before giving way to reserves in the second half.
"We had receivers drop balls, we had missed passes, missed blocks, but like I told the team, it's a preseason game and it's all correctable."
The Spongers led 7-6 at halftime on Reyes' 1-yard touchdown keeper set up by his 29-yard pass to Bobby Vavlas (two catches, 47 yards). The pass was preceded by a foiled Bucs fake-punt attempt on fourth and 15 at their 23.
While Reyes worked out his kinks, the running game failed to get untracked, managing only 40 first-half yards against a stiffened Bucs unit that allowed 29.5 points a game in 2007.
Similarly, the Spongers defense suffocated Burr, with senior defensive end Dre Danapas getting in on three sacks.