1. Sports

Storied football rivalry between Clearwater and Largo is back

Largo RB Marcus Paschal scored 2 TDs against Clearwater in 2001. Now he coaches the Largo squad. 
Published Oct. 22, 2015

History and hatred. Big games and high stakes. The rivalry between Clearwater and Largo high schools had it all.

But that was decades ago. The teams have been in different classifications for years, and the annual grudge match was moved from its traditional spot on Thanksgiving weekend to different times during the regular season.

Then the game went from being just another one on the schedule to not being played at all.

This year, things are different.

After an eight-year absence, the storied rivalry is renewed with Largo (5-3, 2-1) hosting Clearwater (6-1, 3-0) Friday in an important Class 6A, District 9 game that has playoff implications for both teams.

"This rivalry is the original rivalry in Pinellas County," Clearwater first-year coach Don Mesick said. "As a fan of high school football I was upset that the game hasn't been played in recent years. It's very important that these two teams play every year, and the fact that it's now a district contest with a playoff berth on the line makes it even more intense.

"Both teams being relevant this year sets up a tremendous Friday night atmosphere."

The rivalry began in 1932. Herbert Hoover was president and the country was in the Great Depression. The schools showed their fighting spirit — on and off the field. Brawls usually occurred before, during and after the game.

It was small town (Largo) versus city slickers (Clearwater).

The animosity became so intense that the series was suspended within its first decade and did not resume until 1959. When it did, it became a Thanksgiving weekend fixture, and was the only game in town. St. Petersburg High played its big game that morning or afternoon.

It also was the final game of the regular season. Usually there was a conference title or a playoff berth at stake. The rivalry became so big that portable bleachers were added in the end zone for that game.

In 1966, Clearwater's Jim Sever scored three touchdowns in a win before an ecstatic crowd of 10,000 at Jack F. White Stadium.

Clearwater and Largo were undefeated when they met in the regular-season finale in 1977. The host Packers, led by running back Michael Whiting and tight end/defensive tackle Bob Cayavec, won to remain unbeaten.

Whiting was the Suncoast player of the year and played at Florida State.

"That was always the biggest game of the season," Whiting said. "You never wanted to lose that one. I remember that '77 game because it was so packed. They even brought in chairs and had people sitting on the track."

Cayavec became an All-American tackle at Alabama under Bear Bryant.

"The Clearwater-Largo rivalry is so big because everybody grew up together," Cayavec said. "I can't believe they haven't played for the past couple of years."

Even the coaches have fond memories of the series. Largo coach Marcus Paschal played in the series for the Packers in 2000 and 2001.

"I can remember it like it was yesterday," Paschal said. "My senior year in 2001 I turned 17 the day of the Clearwater game and scored two touchdowns in a win. It was always a big game to me growing up, and I found it so odd that it wasn't on the schedule.

"I glad it's back. The rivalry is good for the county and for both schools."

Contact Bob Putnam at Follow @BobbyHomeTeam.


  1. Jameis Winston is on pace to gain 4,700 yards this season and throw 32 touchdown passes and 27 interceptions. All of which would be career highs. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Franchise-altering decisions loom for Tampa Bay as it nears the halfway point of the season. Among them: Should the Bucs be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? How much stock should they place in...
  2. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp says he doesn't want to take anything away from Florida, but he doesn't want to keep quiet about the officiating either. MIC SMITH  |  AP
    The South Carolina coach says getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct was "gutless.''
  3. After years of complex Internet-to-TV setups and multiple streaming boxes, it seems the tech has finally caught up with the dream of cutting the cable cord, as several companies, such as Roku and TiVo, have begun offering devices specifically geared to cord cutters.
    Live sports without cable TV isn’t as different as you might think. And that can have serious ramifications across college sports.
  4. Monday Night Football and more sports on the air.
  5. Northside Christian's Brianna White (14) blocks the ball during a district volleyball game against Clearwater Central Catholic on Tuesday. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    The Tampa Bay area will be well represented, although a few teams are left out under the new rankings system.
  6. After Colorado's 6-2 whitewash on Saturday left goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning looking for answers, the Bolts had a spirited practice at Amalie Arena on Sunday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Defenseman Ryan McDonagh says the team has failed to meet expectations in this early stage of the season
  7. Florida's James Houston IV (41) and Umstead Sanders (42) jog through the tunnel before the start of the NCAA college football game against South Carolina Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Columbia, SC. (AP Photo/Mic Smith) MIC SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY LLC  |  AP
    There were two shakeups to Matt Baker’s top five this week, too.
  8. Juan Tejada (right) and the Rowdies could not contain the Hartford Athletic in a 2-1 loss Saturday night. Hartford Athletic
    Tampa Bay’s loss means it will start the postseason with a tall order
  9. Thumbs up: Need 300 passing yards? A couple of touchdown passes? Oatmeal recommendations? Kirk Cousins is your guy. BRUCE KLUCKHOHN  |  AP
    Kirk Cousins and Chase Edmonds lead this week’s list of players you should stash now.
  10. These are unquestionable the three greatest Bucs of all time. But who's the greatest? Tampa Bay Times
    Counting down from No. 25 to 1: Choosing between three Hall of Famers.