TAMPA — Through the years, some of the biggest names and most talented players to come out of Tampa have donned the red and black of Hillsborough. Coming into the 2019 however, veteran coach Earl Garcia’s group has largely been an unknown quantity.
"We’re flying under the radar. Nobody thinks we’re any good. We didn’t have any players in the (Tampa Bay Times’ HomeTeam 100),” said Garcia.
That may be changing after Friday’s season opener at Chelo Huerta as a quartet of sophomores led the Terriers to a dominant 45-6 win over city opponent Robinson.
In the first quarter, it was sophomore running back Jordan Bailey opening the scoring on a 5-yard run. Zach Long (6-of-6 on PATs) converted the point after to put Hillsborough up 7-0. Bailey, in his first varsity game, used both speed and shiftiness to finish with 180 yards on just 13 carries.
The Knights answered when star kicker Steven Verdisco knocked through a 49-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, sophomore Joe Sipp, Jr increased the Hillsborough lead to 14-3 on a 2-yard plunge. After Verdisco and Long exchanged field goals, it was sophomore quarterback Caleb Pierce connecting with James Herman just before the half from 20 yards out to give the Terriers a commanding 24-6 lead.
In the second half, more of the young Hillsborough talent was on display.
Sophomore Erryion Knighton exploded down the right sideline for a 90-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff on the half. The Terriers added fourth-quarter touchdowns by Zion Wright and Jaquan Washington, the latter after his own 86-yard return on a fumble recovery set Hillsborough up at the 5-yard line.
Although much of the focus will be on his young and explosive offense, Garcia was pleased with the effort of his slightly more veteran defense, which boasts five seniors and held Robinson to just 46 rushing yards
“Typical Hillsborough defense. We run to the ball. We’re relentless. We’ve always banked on defense. Defense has won for us for 25 years. Now, we may have an offense that can help us, too,” Garcia said.
The Terriers have a bye next week before hosting Tampa Bay Tech on September 6, while Robinson looks to regroup next week hosting Alonso in their home opener.