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Spongers thwart Packer rally

With Tarpon Springs cruising to a 36-6 lead during Thursday's dual meet against Largo, it seemed the Spongers were a lock to earn a victory and cap off the school's first undefeated season.

But Russ Schenk knew better than to start celebrating too quickly.

The Tarpon Springs coach remembered what happened last season, when his team blew a 30-3 lead against the Packers. So he preached about being patient and staying focused.

The Spongers listened as they held off a furious comeback by Largo and survived for a 36-34 victory. Tarpon Springs ends the regular season 14-0-1 with Thursday's victory, which was Schenk's 100th career win.

"This is such a great accomplishment for these kids," Schenk said. "I told them that this is something you don't appreciate or realize until 10 years down the road. To go undefeated is a big thing, and you earn a lot of respect with that.

"Who knows? It may never happen again, so you've got to do it while you can."

Three bouts gave Tarpon Springs the advantage.

The first was at 145 pounds, where the Spongers' Sean Hanagan, down 14-8 in the bout, rallied in the final minute to win 15-14.

The other two, oddly enough, were losses. David Deptula (171) and Elias Kazelah (189) were beaten by decisions, but they didn't get pinned, which is what the Packers needed in three of the final four bouts in order to complete the comeback.

"Sometimes, you win when you lose," Schenk said. "Those guys (Deptula and Kazelah) came up big for us in that way. Sure, they lost, but we didn't give up the extra six points that would have come from pins, which would have cost us."

Tarpon Springs' varsity team wasn't the only one to go undefeated. The junior varsity also beat Largo to go 10-0 on the season.