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Defending state champ Alonso takes district crown

The Ravens, who had to rebuild after winning Class 2A a year ago, top Steinbrenner 27-2.
Hugs all around after Alonso junior Jade Rayburn returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown during a 27-2 victory over Steinbrenner in a Class 2A flag football district final. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Hugs all around after Alonso junior Jade Rayburn returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown during a 27-2 victory over Steinbrenner in a Class 2A flag football district final. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published Apr. 25, 2019

TAMPA — Alonso won the Class 2A state flag football title last season and a few days later 11 of the 14 starters graduated.

“We had some rebuilding to do,” Alonso coach Matt Hernandez said. “We had a lot of things to straighten out.”

It took some work and adjusting, and a few lumps along the way, but a year later the Ravens appear to have everything straight indeed.

In a Class 2A district final Wednesday night, the Ravens looked darn near unbeatable in a 27-2 victory over visiting Steinbrenner.

Yes, there was a glaring miscue on the game’s first play — a hike over the head of quarterback Sara Rheintgen and into the end zone for a safety — but other than that the Ravens were stellar in every part of the game.

Rheintgen, for instance, was rock solid and never ruffled, throwing touchdown passes of 40 yards to Idalys Acosta (who redeemed herself after the poor opening hike), 24 yards to Amanda Greaser and 3 yards to Stephanie Sandborn.

Alonso junior Jade Rayburn turns a quick slant pass into a long gain. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)

“I didn’t really worry about the (safety on the first play),” said Rheintgen, who in her first year as a varsity starter has played particularly strong in the past four games, throwing for almost 1,200 combined yards. “I felt like, well, we didn’t get a chance to show everybody what we can do on that first drive. But we’ll have more chances and everything will be fine.”

On the defensive side, Alonso (9-3) was perhaps even more stout, making Steinbrenner scrap for every inch and never really allowing the Warriors to mount a serious threat.

Two of the times the Warriors seemed to have openings for breakaways, Greaser and Jade Rayburn were there to grab interceptions. Greaser grabbed her pick near the goal line and Rayburn returned hers 35 yards for a touchdown that put Alonso comfortable ahead, 20-2 in the second quarter.

“We’ve come a long way this season and now we’re playing great,” Acosta said. “We feel confident."

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Related: Varsity call-up helps clinch district title for Robinson


  1. Carrollwood Day sophomore Milahnie Perry controls the tempo in a 74-36 victory over Tampa Prep in a Class 3A region quarterfinal. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  2. BJ Graham and Jesuit are already off to a strong start, as was expected of the nation's top high school program. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  3. Newsome Wolves catcher Lydia Castro is dynamic behind the plate and with a bat in her hand. She is also committed to USF. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. Elli Black, 11, crosses the finish line in first place in the women's division at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 8K. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  5. There were many standout players for Tampa Catholic on Saturday, including goalkeeper Charlie Gembarowski, who set school records in shutouts (16) and wins (22) with the state semifinal victory. [JOSEPH WEISER  |  Icon SMI via ZUMA Press]
  6. Jesuit, ranked No. 6 in the state and 15th nationally by MaxPreps, will play for their seventh school title next Saturday in DeLand against Pembroke Pines Charter. [JOSEPH WEISER  |  Icon SMI via ZUMA Press]
  7. Shorecrest coach Jason Montoya, seen here in a previous playoff match, was happy with how his team played in Saturday's state semifinal. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  8. Elaine Jeffers, left, and mom Jennifer are all smiles in their pirate and parrot costumes after finishing the 15K and 5K races Saturday morning. Today, both Elaine, 33, and Jennifer, 60, will run their 61st half-marathon. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  9. Joe Conrad, at the mere age of 90 in the orange hat, crosses the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K finish line with 30 of his relatives: kids, grandkids and so on. Conrad, who has set several age-group records at races the past few decades, finished in 59 minutes, 28 seconds, but he did, of course, benefit from all the pacers around him. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
  10. Cambridge Christian runner Reed Legg finishes first (15:29) during Saturday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 5K. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  11. Tampa Bay Tech, still missing star sophomore Janiah Barker, falters in the region final Friday, but if healthy should make another deep playoff run next season. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  12. After its 3-1 victory over Westminster Academy of Fort Lauderdale on Friday, the Shorecrest girls soccer team  will be playing in the program's first state final next week in Deland. [CHUCK FRYE  |  Special to the Times]