Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Warriors set new course

SEMINOLE — Osceola's schedule was not exactly the blueprint for getting off to a fast start. There were games against 2011 playoff teams Pinellas Park and Largo, and others against resurgent Northeast and always-tough St. Petersburg.

The result? A 1-3 start.

Then came the more manageable part of the schedule with matchups against Seminole, Boca Ciega and Clearwater. More than just feasting on struggling programs, the Warriors have gained a handle on coach George Palmer's schemes and his idea for the way football should be played.

The result? Three straight victories.

This is more than a turnabout, a reversal of fortune, a shedding of old skin. The offense runs the ball. The defense not only shuts down teams, but makes game-swinging plays. The special teams make an impact. And the interlocking play among those three phases has helped make this team whole.

Tonight, Osceola (4-3, 1-1) hosts Tarpon Springs (3-4, 1-1) in a Class 6A, District 7 game that has serious postseason implications. If the Warriors win, they will have gone from 1-3 to playoff contender.

"We're shortening the field, eliminating the turnovers and playing well defensively," Palmer said. "All of those things have helped give us a chance to win, and we've been able to put a few victories together."

This kind of turnaround is not unprecedented. Last year, Osceola started 1-5 before winning three of its last four, including an upset of the Spongers that kept the Warriors in the playoff picture until their final district game.

Another run didn't seem possible at the beginning of the season, especially after Osceola lost receiver/linebacker Kyle Brittain, who transferred to Clearwater Central Catholic.

"A lot of people on the outside probably didn't think we could do much," defensive back Austin Lawrence said. "But I always thought the playoffs were a possibility. We came on at the end of last season, and I think that helped us know we can compete."

Lawrence has contributed by creating timely turnovers. He has five interceptions, including four in last week's win over Clearwater.

On offense, the Warriors churn up the clock with backs such as Jamil Morris, who scored twice against the Tornadoes. They also filter in a few big-play passes from quarterback Andrew Matyk.

"We feel like we're doing what we need to do to keep this going," Lawrence said. "If we keep playing as a team, we can win the rest of our games and make the playoffs."

Comments
2018 NFL schedule: All 256 games ranked

2018 NFL schedule: All 256 games ranked

When the NFL released its schedule Thursday night, we were going to rank the best and worst games. Instead, we entered the Times schedule-evaluation laboratory and ranked all 256 based on their attractiveness and the quality of the teams involved.One...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

HARTFORD, Conn. — Craig Breslow is 37 years old, with a dozen years of experience as a left-handed reliever in the major leagues. He is pitching now for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, just getting to know his teammates. In their openin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely unable to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother,...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 11 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 12 hours ago
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Really, it’s time to look ahead

Really, it’s time to look ahead

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 this afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I’m going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years.I’m going to ta...
Published: 04/20/18