Teams vying for second place in Dist. 16-6A
Chances slim that Central can be dethroned
Akilah Laster | 9/26/2013, 9 a.m.
The majority of district 16-6A teams, whether they want to admit it or not, are playing for second place. That’s because Central’s dominance pretty much guarantees that they’ll hold on to the top spot in the district. Last Friday’s 16-6A district play leveled the playing field among the next four teams even more when Carol City defeated Northwestern 28-15 at Traz Powell and Norland upset Homestead 19-17 at Harris Field.
Northwestern vs. Carol City
A game that was tied at 2-2 and then again at 15-15 exposed just how evenly matched the teams were. There was not a huge difference in passing yards where Northwestern’s Trevis McKinney threw for 58 yards compared to Carol City’s 33-yards passing. Both teams were careless combining for six fumbles in the game and both had at least 10 penalties.
What made the difference was the Chief’s composure after errors — they recovered two of three fumbles, where the Bulls (1-2, 0-1) lost possession on all three mishandles. The Bulls penalties cost them 105 yards compared to Carol City’s 65, many coming on crucial plays. The most significant gap came on the Chief’s hard-nosed rushing that earned them two additional touchdowns to stretch their lead to 13. Led by the dichotomous quarterback Trayon Gray, the Chiefs (2-2, 1-0) finished with 210-yards rushing. Gray tacked on 135 of those yards and two touchdowns, including a 58 yard run-the longest of the game.
“The difference last night was our defense and resiliency,” said Aubrey Hill, Chiefs head coach. “It gives us a clear vision of where we are and where we want to go.”
The Carol City defense recorded one interception and held the Bulls to 85-yards rushing.
Norland vs. Homestead
A game that looked like it was going to the Broncos (2-1, 0-1), changed course in the last 60 seconds. Vikings Running Back Khalil Murat’s 7-yard touchdown run with 53 seconds remaining put Norland (1-3, 1-0) ahead for the first and most essential time of the game.
Homestead who went into the game undefeated had an early spark by Florida commit Ermon Lane who scored on a 90-yard kickoff return to open the game. Receiver Gilbert Johnson added to the mix on an 82-yard reception in the third that almost solidified the game. But Murat had a different agenda with two touchdowns to clinch a district win and Norland’s first win of the season.
“The win was big on so many levels,” Norland Coach Daryle Heidelburg said. “It stops a losing streak that these players have never experienced before and keeps us in the playoff hunt. Hopefully it sparks the team and we’ll have more wins.”
Carol City is now tied with Norland at the top of the district, bumping Central (3-1), whose first district game is in two weeks, to third place. Homestead and Northwestern are now at the bottom of the district and do not face each other until November 1st.
Assuming that Central goes undefeated in district in that time, and if either the Bulls or Broncos hope to make the playoffs, Carol City and Norland would have to lose the remainder of their district games.
The Chiefs have two non-district contests before they face Homestead on October 18th, starting Friday with Southridge at the Spartans’ home at 7:30 p.m. Norland and Columbus square off on Friday at North Miami at 7:30 p.m. and will resume district play on October 4th against Northwestern. Central, who has not lost a district game since 2009, plays all of its district games four consecutive weeks, starting with Homestead on October 5th. They are not scheduled to play this week.