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Clearwater's new attack no passing fancy

When Clearwater High coach Tom Bostic said in the preseason that his team would throw the ball more, it appeared to be a passing thought. "I think it's fun getting the ball in the air," Bostic said in August.

After four games, Clearwater threw sparingly, gaining only 131 yards by pass, and Bostic appeared ready for a future in politics.

But the campaign promise is bearing fruit. Read the Tornadoes' lips: We can pass. In the past two games, Clearwater quarterback Anthony Evans has thrown for 323 yards.

"We've been throwing all along. It presented itself (lately) and we took advantage of it. Anthony's been throwing the ball real well," said Bostic, who then tossed out a line that he hopes reaches Riverview ears.

"But everybody knows we can't throw. We're trying to keep that myth alive."

Too late. Riverview had its share of scouts at recent Clearwater games. The Rams are likely to know all about Evans and his targets when Riverview and Clearwater clash Saturday morning in a battle for the 5A-District 9 lead.

Clearwater's passing-come-lately offense may be what the Tornadoes need against the bigger and favored Rams.

"We can't just sit there and slug it out with them. They're too big and strong," said Bostic, whose team has been shut out three straight times by Riverview. "We have to find what's working and stay with it. We have a number of formations we can use."

And don't think the Clearwater coaches haven't looked at all the combinations. They are bleary-eyed these days from viewing so many Riverview films, looking for weaknesses.

"We got quite a selection," said assistant coach Frank Roberson, pointing to a stack of six videotapes. "Only, we don't serve popcorn."

What Clearwater may serve up is a lot of passes. Evans, a senior, has played quarterback since his youth-league days, but this is his first full year as a varsity starter. His arm is strong, but he said he's still learning to read defenses _ explaining his five interceptions.

But Evans also has six touchdown passes, a side effect of Clearwater's early running ways. Bostic said his team didn't throw a lot in the beginning because teams "were giving us the run. We were controlling the ball and the clock." But now the pass routes seem to be cleared.

"I've been wide open a few times," senior tight end Pete Loope said. Last year, Loope had two passes thrown his way. He has caught two passes so far this season, and more could come his way if Riverview covers the wide receivers.

"No teams cover the tight end," Loope said.

Flanker Lenard Hayes, a senior, leads Clearwater with six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. James Jones, a 130-pound junior, is coming on with three receptions for 53 yards.

"Everyone has expected us to run and we've been catching them snoozing," Evans said. "I hope we can catch them (Riverview) snoozing, too."

Since Riverview coaches have their own films to watch, they probably know all about the Tornadoes-through-the-air approach, and how the Clearwater line protects Evans (only one sack), who is also a capable scrambler.

What makes Clearwater's new offense so interesting is that Riverview's is similar. The Rams run out of the wishbone, but also feature one of the country's best prep quarterbacks, Luke Bencie. While Bencie can throw well, he rarely gets a chance.

The Tornadoes will keep an eye on Bencie. They know how a defense can get caught snoozing.