LUTZ — Neither Palm Harbor University, nor Tropical Storm Nestor, nor a wet football could rain on Steinbrenner’s parade Friday.
The undefeated Warriors continue to shine on a rainy night, routing the Hurricanes 50-0, as senior quarterback Haden Carlson and junior running back Deon Silas established school career records.
Steinbrenner (8-0, 3-0) took a major step toward a first district title. The Warriors entered the Class 8A, District 7 contest as the league’s lone unbeaten team with one district game remaining next Friday against Wharton.
Carlson became Steinbrenner’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes with a 65-yard scoring strike to Carson Franks, who also caught an 80-yard halfback option pass from Jonathan Mallan on the Warriors’ first series. The Mallan-to-Franks connection sparked a 36-0 first-half explosion — ensuring a running clock for the final two quarters — and came after PHU’s Aiden Brown missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt on the first drive of the game.
Silas, who rushed for 151 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns (63 and 35 yards) in the first half, set school career marks in all-purpose yards and return yards.
The career totals for Carlson and Silas were not available. Their milestones were shown on Steinbrenner’s new video screen near the field.
"We took another step towards (a district title), which would be our first,” Steinbrenner coach Andres Perez said. “This was a do-whatever-it-takes kind of night.
"When it’s pouring down rain like this (throughout the game), you always get nervous as a coach. Is it going to be a fumble game? Is it going to be a sloppy game? Our kids kept their composure, and our kids kept playing hard, and heck, 50-0 . . . that speaks for itself.”
Steinbrenner has recorded 12 consecutive victories since a 19-0 loss to Tampa Catholic on Oct. 5, 2018. The Warriors have outscored their opponents by a 549-106 margin during that span, including five shutouts — four this year. Matt Durrance returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown to highlight the Steinbrenner defense, which held PHU (4-5, 2-2) to 28 yards in 30 plays in the first half.
PHU and Steinbrenner had split their previous four meetings.
“I think we executed the game plan what we wanted to do early on (driving to the Steinbrenner 23 on the first series),” PHU coach Michael Mullaney said. “They made adjustments (after that).
“We are an extremely beat-up football team. We have 13 guys out right now. The kids competed, but Steinbrenner is just a really good football team. Besides Armwood, they’re probably the second-best team in the area.”
Mallan contributed a 6-yard scoring run and Dadier Rosario had a 1-yard TD carry for the Warriors.
“This has been about building this program,” Perez said. “It’s all about building our culture, building who were are. From offense, defense, special teams (and) our coaching staff, everyone has bought in.
“Our kids bought in about three years ago. We played them all as sophomores, and they just bought in together, stuck together, and that’s the product we’re getting.”