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Clearwater Central Catholic refuses to yield ground to Calvary Christian

Former Warrior Jordan Niles runs wild, especially in the second half, to keep CCC undefeated against its county rival.
Clearwater Central Catholic's Jordan Niles (22) celebrates with his team as the final seconds tick off in a 49-28 win over Calvary Christian. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 9

CLEARWATER ­— Once the playoff brackets were announced, perhaps no player was more excited than Clearwater Central Catholic running back Jordan Niles. The Marauders were going to play Calvary Christian, the same school Niles transferred from a year ago.

When he finally got to suit up Friday night, he made the most of his one and only chance to play against his former teammates. Niles carried the ball 16 times, gained 236 yards and scored four touchdowns in CCC’s 49-28 win over the Warriors.

He was especially good in the second half, with three straight touchdowns.

“It was personal,” said Niles, who lost to CCC as a Warrior last season. “I’d be lying if I said this was just a regular game.”

The Marauders (8-3) will play at Berkeley Prep next Fridays. Calvary Christian ends its season 8-3.

Clearwater Central Catholic's Giancarlo Margarejo (3) rushes for an 80-yard touchdown vs. Calvary Christian. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]

The game couldn’t have started any better for both teams. Calvary Christian got the ball first and went 66 yards on nine plays to score. Kai Martin ended the drive with a 3-yard run.

The Marauders only needed one play on their opening drive. Giancarlo Margarejo took a hand off, went left and ran untouched down the sideline for an 80-yard score. He only carried the ball one other time in the game due to a nagging shoulder injury.

Things settled down a bit, but CCC got back in the end zone early in the second quarter. After a Johntavious Bonner interception put the ball on the Warriors’ 21, Niles ran it in from a yard five plays later to make it 14-7.

Calvary Christian came right back thanks to a diving catch in the end zone from 20 yards out by Richie Ilarraza, a CCC transfer.

The final first-half score came with four minutes left when Johnny Newton plowed in from 4 yards. That gave CCC a seven-point lead at the break, but it got out of hand quickly in the third.

Niles scored on a 27-yard touchdown run to start the quarter. Then he had a 53-yard TD run. Then came a 17-yard score that made it 42-14. With Magarejo not running due to the shoulder and Johnny Newton slowed with an Achilles problem, it was up to Niles to carry the load.

“I figured they were going to lean on me a little more in the second half,” Niles said. “We didn’t have too many drives in the first half but we got better in the second. The offensive line was just making big holes.”

When Tyler Barrett intercepted a Harold Cook pass and scored from 25 yards, the score was 49-14 and forced a running clock. Calvary Christian scored two late touchdowns.

Clearwater Central Catholic's Johntavious Bonner (9), left, intercepts a pass intended for Calvary Christian's Shelton Quarles Jr. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]

“What a night? What a year for Jordan,” CCC coach Chris Harvey said. “It’s special for him because he’s a former Calvary player. But he’s special. We’ve had some good running backs here. But Jordan, in his one year, he really set himself apart. He’s a great player but an even better person.”

The win was CCC’s 100th this decade. It is 100-21 from 2010 to present. Calvary has never beaten the Marauders in football.

“Football players win games and coaches lose them and I didn’t have my guys as prepared as the should’ve been,” Calvary coach Reggie Crume said. “They were just stronger than us up front on both sides of the ball.”

Region football semifinals

All games 7:30 p.m. next Friday.

Class 2A, Region 3

• No. 3 Seffner Christian at No. 2 Northside Christian

• No. 4 Admiral Farragut at No. 1 Cambridge Christian

Class 3A, Region 3

• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 1 Berkeley Prep

Class 4A, Region 3

• No. 4 Clewiston at No. 1 Lakewood

• No. 3 Tampa Catholic at No. 2 Delray Beach American Heritage

Class 5A, Region 3

• No. 8 Chamberlain at No. 4 Jesuit

Class 5A, Region 2

• No. 4 Nature Coast at No. 1 Orlando Jones

Class 6A, Region 2

• No. 5 Clearwater at No. 1 Gaither

• No. 3 Lake Minneola at No. 2 Largo

Class 7A, Region 3

• No. 3 Manatee at No. 2 Mitchell

Class 7A, Region 2

• No. 5 Bloomingdale at No. 1 Armwood

• No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech at No. 2 Lakeland

Class 8A, Region 2

• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 1 Sarasota Riverview

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tre'von Riggins, a University of Miami commit, has been a force for the Lakewood defense since he transferred from IMG Academy. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The “Duke Energy Boys” have helped drive an unbeaten season, not giving up a touchdown in seven games.
  2. Mitchell quarterback Ezra Brennan has already surpassed 2,000 yards passing this season. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    The learning curve isn’t too steep for the first-year Mustangs starter, whose unflappable nature can be traced to the other sport he excels in — baseball.
  3. Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor of Plant High makes a move around Northwestern defensive lineman Joe Gaziano on Nov. 2  in Bloomington, Ind. Indiana won 34-3. DOUG MCSCHOOLER  |  AP
    Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota have become feel-good stories in college football this season, with coaches and players who have roots locally.
  4. Clearwater Central Catholic's Zac Elam says that one of the offensive line's strengths is that "we’re really close as a group." DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
    While often inconspicuous, the Marauders’ offensive line knows its value this season.
  5. Nature Coast's Dedric Hall does a little bit of everything for the Sharks, which is why they're in the second round of the playoffs. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    The junior can burn you in the running game. He’s nifty in the passing game. And if you’re not careful, he’ll pick off your quarterback, too.
  6. Admiral Farragut's Martel Mott takes off after intercepting a pass by Cambridge Christian's Titan Williamson during the teams' Sept. 13 regular-season matchup. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    One thing is certain in the playoffs under the new format: rematches from the regular season.
  7. Not only is Riverview's Alyssa Hendrix a two-times state champ in cross country, but her latest title follows two earlier this year in state track. Hendrix, pictured here from the spring, won the 3,200- and 1,600-meter titles in May. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The final tally: Two individual champs, three team champs and a host of individual medalists.
  8. Clearwater Central Catholic’s Jordan Niles, right, hugs Calvary Christian’s Richie Ilarraza after the Marauders’ playoff win. Niles is a former Calvary player. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Sunday Morning QB: Clearwater Central Catholic, Steinbrenner and Chamberlain are just a few of the standouts in the region quarterfinals.
  9. Plant senior Birdie Frierson, here in a match earlier this postseason, says on Saturday the Panthers "were just a little bit off. The serves were just a little bit off. The sets were just a little bit off. Nothing felt like ‘This is it. This is our point.’ It was that kind of day.” SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Both Tampa teams sustain road losses in the state semifinals.
  10. The region quarterfinals started Friday night for teams around Tampa Bay. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Packers, missing a few playmakers while a few more take their lumps Friday, shut out Countryside.
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