TAMPA — The storybook season for Wiregrass Ranch added another chapter as a stunning turn of events has the Bulls playoff bound for the first time since 2010 after a 37-14 victory over Gaither on Friday night.
Earlier in the day, the Florida High School Athletic Association ruled that Sickles would have to forfeit all of its 2016 victories, including Class 7A, District 8 ones, giving Wiregrass Ranch (7-1, 5-0) the opportunity to clinch a playoff berth with a victory Friday.
The Bulls looked to seize their newfound opportunity and establish their ground game on the first drive of the game, chewing up almost seven minutes before senior quarterback Chris Faddoul scored on a sneak from the 2-yard line. After forcing a three and out on defense, another methodical drive ended with Chase Oliver scoring on a dive play from 5 yards out to put the Bulls up 13-0,
After a second touchdown run by Faddoul and the first of two interceptions by junior defensive back Shamaur McDowell, it was time for Da Da McGee to take over. The shifty junior burst up the middle for a 46-yard touchdown just before the half to put Wiregrass Ranch up 25-0. He finished with 172 yards on 36 carries.
Gaither (3-5, 3-2) got a strong performance from T.J. Williams, who finished with 164 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yard run to open the second half.
The Bulls will host Plant for the district title next week, and coach Mark Kantor could not be prouder of his team's remarkable turnaround from a 2-8 2015 season.
"We are 7-1, most wins in school history. Now we get to take on a really good team in Plant for the district title. We've gone through pain, agony, heartache, strife … but we did it," he said.