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Lake Minneola gives Largo more than just a star running back to worry about

The Packers do a good job of containing Kyeandre Magloire, but the same can’t be said of Lake Minneola’s quarterback.
High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. [Times]
Published Nov. 16

LARGO — Mission accomplished, or so it seemed.

In Friday’s Class 6A, Region 2 semifinal, host and second seed Largo had the perfect weapons in Jayion McCluster and A.J. Mathis — and their combined 200-plus tackles — to neutralize the state’s best running back in Lake Minneola’s Kyeandre Magloire.​

The Packers pair were up to the challenge of shutting down Magloire, holding the state’s leader in yards, TDs and points to just 65 yards rushing on the night. But the third-seeded Hawks had a more-than-worthy Plan B in senior quarterback Devon Cole, who torched Largo through the air in the first half and on the ground in the second en route to a convincing 33-13 victory.​

Now with a 9-3 record, Lake Minneola will continue its best-ever season with a road trip to take on top seed Gaither — a 27-20 semifinal victor over Clearwater — in next Friday’s region final. Largo finishes its season with an 8-4 record. ​

With Magloire bottled up, Cole threw daggers into the Packer D, connecting on 11 of 20 passes for 224 yards and touchdowns to Antonio Thomas (a 51-yard fourth-down bomb to open the scoring) and Magloire (38 yards with 2:27 left in the half). Tack on a pair of Largo turnovers, losing a fumble into the Hawks’ end zone that was recovered by Jay Jay Williams for a touchback followed by a 47-yard pick-six from Trent Logan, and the hosts were behind 20-6 at the break.​

“That was a goal to try and neutralize their running back (Magloire) and make (the Hawks) play left-handed, but (Cole) scrambled around and found some guys open,” Packers coach Marcus Paschal said. “We just couldn’t get any pressure on him. The defense that we’ve become accustomed to just wasn’t there (Friday night).”​

The trend continued in the second half as Cole deftly read the holes his line presented to him and rumbled for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns on grinding drives of 12 and 11 plays that ran more than 11 minutes off of the clock.​

“My teammates picked me up at halftime and told me to do what I do,” said Cole, who finished with 344 yards of total offense. “I came out and just played my game.”​

Largo’s offense struggled in response. Missing starting quarterback Brandon Coppola for a second straight contest, the sophomore tandem of Garrett Gurney (TD runs of 3 yards in the first half and 7 yards in the second, 45 yards rushing and 84 more passing) and Jonquis Bonney produced in spurts but penalties (93 yards) and miscues were their undoing.​

“We had a lot of new pieces and the young quarterbacks tried their hardest but it wasn't just one person,” Paschal said. “We just didn't get it taken care of, we couldn't get anything going offensively, defensively and on special teams.​

“But this definitely was a positive season. Our goal was to win the district championship and be in the playoff hunt and we did that. This is my sixth year and our third straight district title. This was a tough loss but we’ll keep pushing. We’ll be here for years to come.”

Region finals

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

Class 2A, Region 3

• No. 4 Admiral Farragut at No. 3 Seffner Christian

Class 3A, Region 3

• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 2 Fort Myers Bishop Verot

Class 4A, Region 3

• No. 3 Tampa Catholic at No. 1 Lakewood

Class 5A, Region 3

• No. 4 Jesuit at No. 2 Lake Wales

Class 6A, Region 2

• No. 3 Lake Minneola at No. 1 Gaither

Class 7A, Region 2

• No. 2 Lakeland at No. 1 Armwood

Class 8A, Region 2

• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 3 Kissimmee Osceola

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Prep's Grace Langston (50), left, works to disrupt a shot attempt by Wesley Chapel's Mia Nicholson (12) during the game on Friday. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes
    The Wildcats lead early, then hang on to improve to 5-0 on the season.
  2. Cambridge Christian coach Bob Dare and wife Beth at the 2015 state championship in Orlando. BOB DARE  |  Special to the Times
    The longtime Lancers coach, who led the program to the state title game in 2015, will no longer be a coach or teacher at the school.
  3. River Ridge senior Brandi Willard is among the area leaders in points per game so far this season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    Our offensive and defensive leaders for Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
  4. Academy of the Holy Names senior Madison Kurtz, right, gets congratulated by sophomore Nicole Sakre after scoring a goal in a 4-0- victory over Steinbrenner early this season. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    The Jaguars, who came up short at state a year ago, expect to remain energized and focused all the way to a title.
  5. Jalen Cooper is among a group of seniors on the Anclote roster who have been playing together since middle school. SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times
    A three-point loss in last season’s playoffs spark the Sharks to strive for more.
  6. Seffner Christian doesn't shy away from tough competition, taking on a team that reached state last season in its season opener. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The defending state finalist Crusaders rally from a 20-point deficit only to watch host Lakewood Ranch sink a free throw as time expires.
  7. Kanesha Hall, the first 1,000-point scorer in school history, on the court during Monday's practice at Northeast. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    The senior recently broke the 1,000-point barrier to become the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball.
  8. Marcellus Crutchfield of Tampa Catholic runs down the court  during the Class 5A state semifinals last season in Lakeland. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    With a brutal schedule this season, will Tampa Catholic’s reign at the top last long?
  9. Carrollwood Day, an annual state contender, remains one of the top teams in Tampa Gay. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Eight teams in our top 10 are undefeated.
  10. Lakewood's Artez Hooker (8) consoles Cornelius Mckenzie (10) after the Spartans fall 9-7 in the Class 4A state semifinals to Miami Booker T. Washington. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    One thing is certain: South Florida remains a hurdle for teams all over the state to clear.
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