TAMPA — Rory Hicks is elusive and efficient. He can scramble to buy time in the pocket or take off to pick up timely first downs.
The Clearwater Central Catholic senior also is careful with the football, rarely making a costly mistake.
But of all the attributes the Marauders quarterback has shown since taking over as the starter last year, his greatest is the ability to win.
Hicks, who transferred from Countryside last year, has never lost a regular-season game during his time at CCC. He kept that streak intact Friday night, leading the Marauders to a 14-6 win over previously undefeated Jesuit.
CCC (9-0) has won 22 straight regular-season games, the longest streak among area teams. Hicks has been a part of 19 of those and is 21-1 as a starter, counting the playoffs.
This was supposed to be the toughest test. The Tigers (7-1) had been on a roll of their own and already had experience stopping an opponent’s impressive win streak. Two weeks ago, Jesuit beat Kissimmee Osceola, ending the Kowboys’ 29-game regular-season win streak.
"This was good for us," Hicks said. "Jesuit is a great team. We came out a little flat and got punched in the mouth a little bit. We weren’t used to that, but coaches gave us a little butt-kicking talk at halftime and we turned things around."
In the first half of a defensive slugfest Friday night, it appeared as if the Tigers would do it again. Jesuit took advantage of good field position late in the second quarter and scored on a 37-yard field goal by Cade Freeman to take a 3-0 lead at the half.
Then the Marauders — and Hicks — went to work. CCC scored on its opening possession of the third quarter. Hicks led the way, completing a 24-yard pass to Jerjuan Newton to keep the drive alive and capping it off with a 10-yard run for a touchdown.
Ahead 7-0, the Marauders added to their lead as Makkah Jordan scored on 10-yard run to make it 14-3. Jordan was ejected after receiving two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after his score. His status for next week’s game against Sarasota Cardinal Mooney is uncertain.
CCC’s defense did the rest. Giancarlo Margarejo intercepted a pass in the end zone to thwart a Tiger scoring drive.
Jesuit scored again in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard field goal from Freeman. But on a potential game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter, the Marauders came up with back-to-back sacks to force a turnover on downs and seal the win.
Hicks was 14-of-21 for 163 yards.
He has the numbers. He has the wins.
About the only thing he doesn’t have is a college offer. His coaches are miffed by that.
Hicks isn’t too concerned.
"I just have to be patient," Hicks said. "The offers will come."