Rest assured there are more than a few Citrus County parents who retired early Monday night, and maybe even a few who called in sick to work Tuesday. This after one of the busiest and more stress-filled weekends in Pop Warner Football.
Of course, that's not to say the weekend went without its share of rewards.
For both the Crystal River Sharks and Inverness Razorbacks, Saturday marked the conclusion of the regular season in football and Sunday marked the beginning of the competitive season for cheerleading. In both cases and in both leagues, parents and youngsters can look forward to future glory.
For Crystal River, the weekend offered further proof of the league's consistent rise to the top in both football and cheerleading. After qualifying two of three teams for last year's playoffs, the Sharks will send three teams into the post-season this year. Not to be outdone, the Sharks cheerleaders also improved on last year's mark, winning three conference championships.
Inverness parents also have plenty of reason to smile. Though the performance of their teams didn't quite equal that of the Sharks, the Razorbacks also will have representatives in the post-season. The Jr. Pee Wee football team wrapped up second place in the South Division of the Timucua Conference on Saturday and its cheerleading counterpart earned a trip to the Southeast Regional competition with a second-place finish Sunday.
Here's a look at the weekend's action:
CRYSTAL RIVER SHARKS
Mitey Mite (Sharks 27, Belleview 0): One of only two undefeated teams in the county, the Sharks (7-0-1) completed the regular season with a complete effort on both sides of the ball. Kyle Coven gave the Sharks the lead for good with his 35-yard punt return in the first half. Kyle Daquanna scored from 1 yard out, John Seffern scored on a 25-yard run, and Mychal Nichols completed the scoring with a 5-yard run. Josh Hoggard caught a pass from Daquanna for a PAT, and Quincy Wilson's early interception led to a score.
Jr. Pee Wee (Sharks 36, Belleview 6): The Sharks (5-3) got solid production from all corners, with three touchdowns from the Blue offense and two from the Gray as they locked up first place in the South Division and a Wednesday playoff berth against the Razorbacks at 7 p.m. at Citrus High.
Chris Koontz started things off with an 18-yard touchdown run and quarterback Brett Baliszewski gave the Sharks a two-touchdown lead with a 52-yard run from scrimmage, the longest for either team. Duane Sanders and Alex Berry each scored on 1-yard runs while Gray teammates C.J. Osburn and Frankie Gough hooked up on a 7-yard pass to complete the scoring.
Pee Wee (Sharks 36, Belleview 0): The Sharks (8-0) posted the county's best overall record in dominating eight straight opponents, yet are the only county team that will travel on Wednesday due to scheduling difficulties with some of the other leagues. Still, the Sharks should be heavy favorites when they travel to Cross City for a 7 p.m. matchup with 7-0 Dixie County.
"I don't know a lot about them," Sharks coach Eddie Gerrits said. "I think we've probably played a tougher schedule, but we're going in with the attitude that any team that is 7-0 has to be pretty good."
On Saturday, the Sharks completed the regular season with yet another washout of a seemingly inferior opponent. Arlando Madison set the tone early with a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown, and teammate Chianta Smith scored on a 35-yard run on the next series. E.J. Gerrits hooked up with wideout Allen Rooks for a 25-yard touchdown pass, and Derrick Scrivens and Justin Duncan completed the scoring with runs of 8 and 22 yards. Rooks also contributed three PAT kicks (worth two points).
Jr. Midget (Sharks 25, Belleview 0): The Sharks (5-3) wrapped up first in the South Division with a whipping of previously undefeated Belleview. Interestingly enough, the Sharks will play the same Belleview team at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Crystal River in the first round of the playoffs.
William Bunch led the effort Saturday, throwing touchdown passes of 50 and 40 yards to Tim Embree and 20 yards to Ryan Dawsey. Dana Robbins completed the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Mitey Mite (Newberry/Archer 12, Razorbacks Red 6): Burt Guinan scored on a 10-yard run, completing a 60-yard drive as the Razorbacks (3-3-2) pulled within a touchdown in the second quarter. Despite the efforts of running backs Christopher North and Sam Minosh and center Curtis Neumann, the Razorbacks were unable to score in the second half.
(Razorbacks Gray 25, Spring Hill 0): Christopher Squire scored on a 40-yard run and threw touchdown passes of 43 and 10 yards to Dante Alexander and Jeremy Creel in leading the Razorbacks (5-2-1) to their most complete win of the season. Creel added an 8-yard run and Walter Sissom kicked three PATs.
Jr. Pee Wee (Newberry/Archer 20, Razorbacks 6): The Razorbacks (2-6) qualified for the playoffs with a second-place finish in the South Division despite the loss and will host Crystal River at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Citrus High. Guy Anderson, Jeffrey Rife and David Bomley all had solid games on the line, and Izryal Webb scored the Razorbacks' lone touchdown on a 20-yard run in the second quarter.
Pee Wee (Razorbacks 25, Spring Hill 0): The Razorbacks (5-3) ended their regular season in impressive fashion, scoring touchdowns through the air, on the ground and on special teams in one of their most complete efforts of the season. Steven Hise and Alex Butts scored on runs of 5 and 8 yards, quarterback Jeremy Creel and Kevin Cooke hooked up for a 10-yard touchdown pass, and R.J. Cobb completed the scoring with a 40-yard punt return. Scott Mauller had an interception and lineman Matt Gilbert led the effort in the trenches.
Jr. Midget (Marion Co. 30, Razorbacks 0): The Razorbacks (3-5) were led by RB Matthew Simmons, DL Robert Clark, OL Steven Judd and TE Adam Sanchez.
The Sharks will send three champions to the Southeast Regionals after claiming Timucua Conference titles in the Jr. Pee Wee, Pee Wee and Jr. Midget divisions.
This is the fifth straight title for the Jr. Midgets, the second straight for the Pee Wees, and the first for the Jr. Pee Wee team. The Mitey Mite team, while not eligible for competition yet, also performed well.
"They did an excellent job," Sharks cheerleading coordinator Kathie Carpenter said. "They were just awesome. They did more stunts than some of the older teams. I think this is because of the hard work and dedication of the people involved. We have real dedicated parents and volunteers."
The Jr. Pee Wee cheerleaders hold the distinction of being the first Inverness team in that division to qualify for regional competition after taking second place Sunday. They will perform Nov. 28 in Fort Myers.
"It's the first time for us, so it's a new thing," Razorbacks coordinator Monica Hodson said. "It just took a lot of hard work and dedication, but the girls also had fun with it and I think that helped."
SOFTBALL: The Citrus Squeeze posted a 2-1-1 record in its second National Softball Association tournament of the fall, getting to within two games of the final. Pitcher Gina Reynolds led the Squeeze to wins over the Florida Mustangs (3-2) and the Southwest Florida Sugarcanes (3-1), giving up just one earned run along the way.
The Squeeze was eliminated by the Mirage on Sunday 4-0. Laura Helt led the Squeeze at the plate, batting .364 over the two-day event. Stephanie Hampton (.333) and Brandi Farmer (.333) also hit well.