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  1. Sports

QB Osby Green and Boca Ciega aim for turnaround season

ST. PETERSBURG — Osby Green knew it wasn't going to be easy. As a sophomore quarterback playing his first varsity season on a team that had won just two games the year before, he was going to have to take his lumps. He just didn't realize how many lumps.

From the first game of the 2015 season, a 28-6 loss to Lakewood, to the sixth game, an embarrassing 47-0 loss to Largo in which he threw four interceptions, the Pirates lost every game and Green threw a total of 10 interceptions.

"In my first varsity game everything was so fast," Green said. "There was a lot expected of me and I needed to adjust. I was just determined to get better. The more I played the more confident I got. I just kept telling myself that it was going to get better."

The Pirates had a bye week before playing Northeast in the seventh game last season. Coach Max Smith noticed that eight of Green's interceptions came on the same type of pass play, so that particular page of the playbook was thrown out.

With the offense simplified, Green and the Pirates won their first game, 42-41 over the Vikings. They also threw in a win against Dixie Hollins. Green threw only two interceptions in the final four games, and one of those was on a Hail Mary.

With two late-season wins, the Pirates — and Green — were filled with confidence.

That confidence only strengthened with a win over Central in the spring game.

Green, who wasn't even the starting quarterback as a freshman on the junior varsity, was more determined than ever to prove himself as a junior. He worked out over the summer with teammates. Sometimes they would trek to Gulfport Beach to work out in the sand.

When the first regular-season game against Lakewood finally rolled around, the Pirates could not wait to get on the field. But they never got there. Lightning cancelled the game. No problem. There was always next week against Gibbs.

Then came Hurricane Hermine. So Boca Ciega had to wait until last week to finally play a game, against Countryside. Green was a much different player than in last year's opener. He carried 11 times for 94 yards and scored a touchdown in a 39-27 win.

"We're tired of losing," Green said. "It was hard last year. It was a grind. But we learned how to finish. This is only one game, though. We've got to keep working."

To be sure, the Pirates will be tested against Clearwater tonight in a Class 6A, District 9 game. Green is sure to play a key role, whether as a runner or a passer. He threw only eight times against Countryside, but Smith said that was because the Pirates were getting nearly 9 yards per carry on the ground.

This week, Smith said, they might throw it 40 times if the pass game is working. He has no problem letting Green air it out.

"One of his strengths is that he's very accurate," Smith said. "And he's a really good runner. Everybody gives him a hard time because he's not super fast, but he sets up his blocking well and he see the lanes well. And he's tough to tackle."

Smith also knows that whether the Pirates are up two touchdowns or down two, Green will not change his demeanor.

"He's a pretty cool cat," Smith said. "I'm kind of a fiery guy and there are times when I wish he would get fired up. He's a humble kid, a quiet kid. He's a lead-by-example kind of kid.

"It's hard to find the vocal leaders now. They spend so much time on social media that they don't know how to talk face to face."