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Joy of downing Eagles still lingers for Sharks

There was a moment toward the end of Frostproof's season-opening win over Nature Coast when the Sharks began looking forward to the Springstead game.

Somewhere during the fourth quarter, the Sharks (1-1) quit fighting, quit caring and started looking forward to the date they had all circled on their collective calendars: Springstead at Nature Coast, Sept. 1.

Nature Coast coach Jamie Joyner said they were "preoccupied" with the Eagles, whom star quarterback Josh Ortiz called "our biggest rival, by far."

Well, that game came and it went. Or did it?

Joyner said the Sharks are "still riding a high" from the last-second 15-10 victory. It was a "program-defining" win in a game that meant more than just football between the programs.

But what, now? Can the Sharks move on? Will it be difficult to carry on with the same enthusiasm with the bulk of the season remaining?

"It's going to be a little hard," said Ortiz, who put the Sharks on his back with 147 rushing yards and both Nature Coast touchdowns. "It was the biggest game of the season. But it was also just the second game of the season. So it's going to be a little hard to get up for (tonight's game).

"But, we have a lot of four-year seniors on this team. We're more mature. We know that, although the Springstead win was big, we have to move on."

Moving on means preparing for the Villages (1-1), tonight's opponent, which is not a county rival like Springstead. The game also won't carry any district implications.

Searching for motivation might be a difficult task with the squad still buzzing from last Friday's big win. Joyner, however, has been plucking at what gets most young athletes motivated: ego.

Last season, the Villages shut out the Sharks.

"I just keep reminding them that they beat us 19-0 last year," said Joyner, searching for motivation.

Ortiz was injured for last season's loss, saying it "was hard to watch" his team struggle the way it did. Now, he's out looking for redemption and is confident tonight's game will be different.

"We're balling right now," Ortiz said of his team. "We've found our identity. I can see it in practice and I saw it last Friday against Springstead."

That Springstead win - it keeps popping up and probably won't stay down for too long this season.

"But we still have to remember," warned Joyner, " that it was only one game. If it's a milestone win, it can't be a watermark. It has to be the beginning."