Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sunlake, River Ridge looking toward better days

LAND O'LAKES — Sunlake three-way senior Chris Harrington was asked to ponder what the postgame celebration would be like if the Seahawks defeated River Ridge for the program's inaugural triumph Friday.

"Did you happen to watch the UCLA game (Monday) night? Ten times like that," Harrington said, referring to the Bruins' overtime triumph over Tennessee. "It's going to be amazing."

Regardless of which stadium local fans step into Friday night, they're bound to see kids stoked out of their cleats. This is, after all, the commencement of the regular season, the real deal. It's the payoff for months of cardiovascular toil in purgatorial Florida heat.

But if you want intrigue — and, perhaps, some history — with your intensity, the North Suncoast's ideal venue may be Sunlake.

Yes, Sunlake. For one night, the area's two weakest programs, in terms of wins and losses, go into a game each has a realistic chance of winning. Truth be told, it may be their only realistic chance. At least on paper.

"We've gone in with the theory they're expecting to beat us," River Ridge coach Tim Stevens said, "and they probably feel like they can."

Sunlake, with no seniors and no real business playing a varsity schedule, was winless in its first season last year. River Ridge won once, a 50-0 triumph over the Seahawks in both teams' opener, to snap the program's 23-game skid.

"They anticipate us being the team we were last year; we're not," Seahawks coach Bill Browning said. "We look to be competitive with them."

How much more competitive? Hard to say. Sunlake was trounced 51-6 by Wildwood in last week's preseason classic, but the Class 2B Wildcats are a perennial playoff contender.

"We're more cohesive than we were last year," Browning said. "I know the score doesn't look like we're improved, but that's probably the most talented team we'll play this year other than Pasco."

Whereas the Seahawks were outskilled by Wildwood, they'll be clearly outsized by the Knights. River Ridge likely will employ a power running game featuring 230-pound fullback Trevor Shoun and an offensive line averaging 265 pounds.

But River Ridge lost its preseason classic 7-3 to Lecanto, which has lost 25 consecutive regular-season games.

"We thought we played pretty physical and we thought we outplayed them, but then again, there were the mistakes, shooting ourselves in the foot," Stevens said. "We felt we were a better team, but we have to learn we're not talented enough to show up and beat people."

What both teams lack in talent they'll atone for in zeal. This week the Seahawks and Knights represent a harbinger of hope for each other. For a pair of programs that see very little sunlight, this is a veritable sun bowl.

"One of us," Browning said, "will be happy Friday night."

Sunlake, River Ridge looking toward better days 09/03/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 6, 2008 6:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    OF/DH Corey Dickerson missed out on a good birthday gift when AL player of the week honors went instead to Detroit's J.D. Martinez. Dickerson hit .385 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs; Martinez went .389-4-9-7 and got the nod.

  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb learning to work with what he has

    Sports

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If this were 2012 or 2013, even 2014, RHP Alex Cobb would have problems. He would find himself working with only two of his three pitches, with the missing pitch being his trusty changeup.

    Alex Cobb, working mainly with his fastball and curveball, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA over his past five starts. The Rays right-hander tries to continue his strong stretch tonight against the Angels.
  4. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.