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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 ­— 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