TAMPA — Together, Berkeley Prep’s Xavier Townsend and Travis Bates had all five Buccaneer touchdowns and more than 300 yards of offense as Berkeley Prep beat Clearwater Central Catholic 35-21 in Friday’s season opener.
It’s not the first time the dynamic duo has headlined the same football team. Except years ago, Townsend and Bates were adversaries, of sorts.
“We played on the same little league team. Back then he used to play linebacker, so we used to compete out in practice,” Townsend said. “We got to high school, and he switched over to the good side.”
On Friday, the Bucs (1-0) were sure glad he did.
Bates and Townsend stole the show from the first snap, with Bates, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior, taking off for a 78-yard touchdown run on the very first play from scrimmage. In the second quarter, Townsend had his own long dash, this one 65 yards for a Berkeley Prep score.
“The offensive line did a great job,” Berkeley Prep coach Dominick Ciao said. “(Bates and Townsend) are big-play guys, and they were able to make some plays tonight.”
In the second half, it was more of the same. Townsend and Bates shared the carries in the third quarter before Townsend, an Iowa State commit, capped a 75-yard Berkeley Prep drive with a 1-yard run up the middle. In the fourth quarter he snagged a 35-yard reception to set up Bates’ 7-yard touchdown run.
While the Bucs’ run game couldn’t be stopped, CCC quarterback Bryson Martin did everything he could to keep the Marauders in the game.
Martin scored all three CCC touchdowns on the ground, and the Marauders were within striking distance until the very end, despite an early Berkeley Prep goal-line stand and four sacks from Buccaneer defensive end Keon Keeley.
But late in the fourth, with the Marauders (0-1) down by just seven, Martin threw four consecutive incomplete passes to all but surrender. The turnover on downs gave the Bucs a short field, and Townsend cashed in quickly, leaping over a pile of defenders for a 1-yard touchdown and his third and final score of the night.
“When I get tired, I can trust Travis in the backfield. When he’s tired, he can trust me in the backfield. It’s a great combo right there,” Townsend said. “Me and Travis, we just do what we gotta do to get the win, that’s all there is to it.”