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Pinellas Park flexes offensive muscles in Week 1

The Patriots rack up more than 400 yards of offense in beating East Lake.
Pinellas Park starts the season with a 34-21 victory over East Lake.
Pinellas Park starts the season with a 34-21 victory over East Lake. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Aug. 28

EAST LAKE – In Jake Germak’s mind, Pinellas Park offered him the best opportunity to utilize his talents.

“I ran this offense in Pinellas Park Little League, ran a lot of wing-T, so I think I fit in perfectly here,” the senior said of his decision to head south from Palm Harbor University. “They needed a quarterback, I stepped up. I wanted to play here.”

And if Week 1 is any indication, Germak made the right decision as the Patriots’ offense was clicking in a commanding 34-21 victory over host East Lake on Friday night.

Working behind an inexhaustible five-cylinder engine of an offensive line helmed by tackles Clifford O’Driscoll and Sebastian Favata, guards Corbin Crawford (coach Kenny Crawford’s son) and Alex Medina, and center Jacob Johanning, the signal caller cracked the whip on an attack that generated 453 yards of offense and controlled the ball for 33 of the game’s 48 minutes.

The beneficiaries were many, like junior running back Isaiah Hampton, who scrambled for 123 yards on just 13 carries with touchdown runs of 10 and 20 yards. Cam Kier (strong lead blocking to go along with a 10-carry, 64-yard, one-TD evening) and Juice Williams (13 carries, 46 yards, one touchdown) also got key opportunities.

And the passing game excelled as well. Germak was a near-perfect 11 of 12 passing for 202 yards, including an 82-yard second-quarter TD toss to speedy senior Eric Jackson.

“We met a lot over summer and started to talk when I was deciding to transfer,” Germak said. “We clicked right away.”

“Man, that’s all film,” Jackson said of the long-distance score. “Everything we do, we prepare. We’re just ready.”

Jackson also was ready on the defensive side of the ball, making an athletic grab of a tipped East Lake pass along the sideline for a key second-quarter interception while adding another pick in the game’s final moments.

“We practice that every day, that the tip drill,” Jackson said. “Shout out to my coaches for helping me with my technique, keeping my eyes to the ball.”

And Pinellas Park’s toughness didn’t stop on the field. Kenny Crawford was prowling the sideline and bellowing instructions despite undergoing total hip replacement.

“One side was done five weeks ago and the other 11 weeks ago,” said Crawford, who was standing with the aid of a cane. “It was not recommended for me to be here but I’m going to tough through it like I ask the kids.”

As with every Bob Hudson-coached team, East Lake played hard all night. Second-quarter touchdowns from Ti’lan McGee (21-yard run) and Wyatt Stiehl (25-yard pass from Jake Bechtel) kept the Eagles close. Bechtel’s 2-yard quarterback sneak capped the game’s scoring with 2:28 left to play.

“East Lake’s got that pride for sure, but it’s who wants it at the end of the day,” Crawford said. “We don’t let our foot off the gas pedal. We’re just ready to fight, man, that’s all it is.”