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Killian keeps hope alive

Akilah Laster | 10/31/2013, 9 a.m.

What once looked like a long-shot has now become possible for Killian after a hallmark 21-13 defeat of district rival South Dade (7-1, 2-1) last Saturday at Tropical Park put the Cougars (4-4, 2-1) back in the running for a District 16-8A championship and post season. “[The Buccaneers] hadn’t been hit in the mouth yet,” said Killian coach, Cory Johnson. “We wanted to challenge them physically.”

The Cougars’ season commenced losing four of their first five games, including a crucial district loss to Coral Reef (5-3, 2-1). But as the football gods would have it, a struggling Southridge (4-4, 2-1) team, whom Killian faces Friday, skated by Coral Reef in a monumental 12-10 upset two weeks ago.

“It gave us the chance at a new life,” Johnson said. “Sometimes things have to happen for us to wake up and smell the coffee.”

That game alone put Killian back in the race for a playoff berth, but the Cougars on Saturday showed they were shooting for the moon. Not only did the win end South Dade’s undefeated season, but it forced a four-way district tie, when the Buccaneers were favored to sweep the district.

“It takes a team time to gel,” Johnson said about the tumultuous season. “[Our district] is haywire right now.”

The Cougars’ defense was relentless with four interceptions including a timely pick by Sheldrick Redwine that he snatched out of the hands of a South Dade receiver in the end zone. That catch would have given the Buccaneers a chance to tie the game. Additionally, the Cougars added four sacks to the mix.

“It was sheer will,” Johnson said of Redwine’s grab. “The kids believed all week.”

But junior safety Bruce Davis was the catalyst of it all who earned Killian’s first two interceptions, including a 53-yard pick-six early in the third quarter to keep the momentum swinging toward the Cougars.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Davis said exhausted. “It’s amazing because of all of these minor setback to be where we are right now.”

The Cougars have been working to diversify their offense according to Johnson instead of relying solely on their respected Wing-T running game.

They scored on an 18-yard pass and catch from Quarterback Joel Careaga to Anthony Olivencia in addition to Jordan Herrera’s 71-yard run — the longest of the night.

“We wanted to become a hybrid offense,” Johnson said. “When we get them both down, it’ll be something.”

The Buccaneers did respond but could not surmount Killian’s defensive onslaught. Their go-to player in Quarterback Kahlil Render, threw four interceptions, the most he’s had in a single game, but still was able to finish with 203 passing yards and two touchdowns. Friday is D-Day for their district. If Killian wins and South Dade wins, then the Cougars would take the district and South Dade would be runner-up, flip-flopping last season’s results. However if Reef wins and the Cougars win then the Barracudas will take the district and Killian will still make the post-season. For some the dim light is now brighter and for others the bright light has become quite dim.