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With huge district game on line, spotlight finally finds SPC

St. Petersburg Catholic’s Julian Smith (1), who has six touchdowns, says the Barons are aware of the hype surrounding Friday’s district matchup.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

St. Petersburg Catholic’s Julian Smith (1), who has six touchdowns, says the Barons are aware of the hype surrounding Friday’s district matchup.

ST. PETERSBURG — There might not be a more anonymous 5-1 team than St. Petersburg Catholic.

The Barons have been working to the side of the main stage in Class 2A, District 5, winning every district game so far and nearly every other one. They have lurked in the shadows of district powers, becoming lost in the blinding glare surrounding Robinson and Jesuit and Middleton.

But the Barons have forced themselves in the spotlight with five straight victories, currently the longest winning streak in the county.

Now St. Petersburg Catholic, which has been the beneficiary of serendipitous scheduling (the combined record of the Barons' past five opponents is 5-16), finally has a game to sink its teeth into.

On Friday, the Barons (5-1, 3-0) host Robinson (4-1, 2-0) with first place in the district on the line.

"This is the biggest game we've had at this school in the last couple of years," St. Petersburg Catholic coach Tod Creneti said.

SPC has made a slow climb back to the top, winning just five games in Creneti's first two years on the job. The Barons have become formidable again by overcoming transgressions of past SPC teams — transgressions that cost the program in fines and a postseason ban.

All these Barons want to do is beat the quality teams on their schedule and make the playoffs for the first time in their careers.

"We're getting a lot of hype about this week and we're all enthusiastic about playing in a big game," SPC receiver Julian Smith said. "We're still undefeated in our district and we just want to play our best and keep things going."

Friday's game will feature two high-octane, risk-taking, crowd-pleasing offenses with seasoned quarterbacks distributing the ball to a dazzling set of skill players.

SPC has scored 30 or more points in each of its five victories. The Barons are led by quarterback Chris McKay, who has thrown for a county-best 14 touchdowns. His favorite target is Smith, who has 475 yards and six touchdowns.

The Knights have the ability to match SPC on the scoreboard. Robinson has scored 30 or more points in four of its five games and is led by quarterback Blake Rice (eight touchdown passes) and receiver Ruben Gonzalez (four touchdown receptions).

"We're going to have to keep our composure, play-mistake free football and hopefully get a few breaks," Creneti said. "This is a point we've worked hard to get to, and it's nice to be competitive and playing for something that matters."

With huge district game on line, spotlight finally finds SPC 10/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 10:28pm]
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