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Steinbrenner never runs out of answers

The Warriors take the lead for good with less than four minutes to play in knocking off top-seeded Sarasota Riverview.
High school football teams around Tampa Bay competed in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. [Times]
Published Nov. 16

SARASOTA — Senior Haden Carlson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Steinbrenner’s dream season continued with a 27-24 win over Class 8A, Region 2 top seed Sarasota Riverview in a wild and dramatic back-and-forth affair at the Ram Bowl on Friday night.

Steinbrenner opened scoring in the first quarter as Carlson (22-of-39, 300 yards) connected with junior Deon Silas on a 45-yard toss down to the Rams’ 3-yard line. Silas (100 all-purpose yards) scored on a 1-yard dive two plays later to give the Warriors an early 6-0 lead as the extra point was no good.

The Rams answered early in the second quarter as a fumbled exchange on a fourth and 1 by the Warriors resulted in a turnover on downs. Riverview senior quarterback Sean White led a 12-play, 72-yard drive, calling his own number on a 4-yard score for a 7-6 Ram lead.

Steinbrenner scored again on the next drive as Carlson carved up the Riverview defense, eventually finding Iowa State commit Aiden Bitter (nine receptions, 140 yards) from 15 yards out on a perfectly thrown fade to put the Warriors back on top 13-7.

“Haden came through in a big way. That’s what you expect from your senior quarterback. You have to give credit to the guys up front grinding it out, too. None of the passes and catches would have happened without them,” said Warriors coach Andres Perez.

At the end of the second quarter, it was the Rams embarking on an 87-yard drive aided by a pair of Steinbrenner personal foul penalties and culminating with a Michael Hayes touchdown from 5 yards out and a 14-13 Riverview lead at the half.

The Warriors took the lead back in the third quarter as Carlson connected with senior Jonathan Mallan from 12 yards out to give Steinbrenner a 20-14 lead.

Riverview immediately regained momentum on the first play of their subsequent drive, as Hayes hit younger brother Omari Hayes on a halfback reverse pass from 80 yards out to put Riverview on top 21-20, the sixth lead change of the game.

Dorian Hall knocked through a 24-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter to set up a dramatic final frame.

A Steinbrenner three-and-out followed by a poor punt gave Riverview excellent field position at the Warriors’ 37. A stand by Steinbrenner set up Riverview’s Dorian Hall for a 53-yard field goal. The wind-aided kick had plenty of leg but was wide left.

“We put our defense in a few tough situations, but the answered the call every time,” said Perez.

Steinbrenner took over at its own 20 and marched 74 yards, setting up a first and goal at the 6-yard line. Carlson converted on a key third-down toss to Bitter, Mallan and Silas on the drive.

Mallan rushed three times, getting down to the 1-yard line, setting up a fourth and goal with under four minutes left. After a pair of offside penalties, Carlson sneaked in for the final margin.

Riverview wasn’t finished. A 69-yard kickoff return put the Rams in great field position at the Warriors’ 19-yard line, however a penalty, a poor snap and tough Steinbrenner defense backed Riverview up to the 40. Hall attempted a 57-field goal that was again wide left as the Warriors hung on for the win.

“This was a playoff battle. This is what high school football is supposed to be. These kids wanted it so bad. They fought like heck. One team has to come out on top. Tonight, it happened to be us. I couldn’t be more proud of our kids," Perez said.

Steinbrenner will travel to Kissimmee to face Osceola next.

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


  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.