WESLEY CHAPEL — Without a doubt, this was a game of pride. A game of a brand new rivalry.
Though Wesley Chapel handled Wiregrass Ranch 21-6 on Friday, the Wildcats saw a different Bulls team than their previous two seasons. Wiregrass now has seniors, with experience to boot.
They just wouldn't go away on their home turf that had a crowd of more than 2,000 on hand.
"When we first came into the stadium, we said this is going to be like the Super Bowl to them," Wesley Chapel coach John Castelamare said. "This is their third year, and they're a good football team. They're no pushover, and it showed. We had a rough time."
The Wildcats (1-0) found success on the ground, getting 175 yards on 15 carries from senior Keenan Reynold, who also had a 31-yard touchdown scamper during the third quarter.
However, the Bulls (0-1) held Wesley Chapel scoreless in the first and stopped a Aaron Duncan run just inches from the goal line going into halftime. Duncan had scored on a 9-yard run in the first, and fullback Hunter Joyer added a 5-yard touchdown in the third.
Wiregrass struggled on offense until the fourth quarter. James Tringali, who had three interceptions, hit a screen pass to running back Nick Lomba that went for 22 yards. And a spearing penalty not only knocked Lomba out of the game, but put the Bulls in the Wildcats' red zone for just the second time in the game.
Three plays later, Paris Wolfe scored from 3 yards out on a sweep.
"We did have a hard time getting the offense rolling, and we're still taking baby steps. But we can see the great improvement we've made," Bulls coach Ricky Thomas said.
"That's what we take from this game, that we see we can play now; that we can hang with them."
Castelamare won't go as far to say Wildcats are still Wesley Chapel's top team but acknowledges a new rivalry was born in this town.
"This is a rivalry now. That's for sure," Castelamare said. "There's no more we should beat them and whatnot. We're just glad to get out of this game with a win."