Paul Crate/News-Chief Blue Streak quarterback Jair Watson fires downfield Friday night, but the offense wouldn't be able to get much going in the 46-0 loss at Winter Haven.
published: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Winter Haven sprints past Blue Streaks
By BILL KEMP
Ledger Media Group
WINTER HAVEN - Defense wins championships but special teams had a big say in this one.
Winter Haven sprinted away with the District 11-6A championship - with one district game still remaining on its schedule - with a 43-0 win over Sebring in front of 2,100 homecoming fans Friday at Denison Stadium.
The Blue Devils had 14-0 lead before their offense ever stepped on the field, courtesy of 56-yard punt return by Kendrick Holland and a 71-yard punt return by D'Angelo Gaines after Sebring's offense was stymied and forced to punt on its first two possessions.
Sebring went to punt again on its third possession but the snap sailed away from the punter and Winter Haven recovered on the Blue Streaks' 14-yard line.
Two plays later, Mario Leonard scored on a 3-yard run to give Winter Haven a commanding 21-0 first quarter lead.
"We wanted to clinch district so we wanted to put the game away early," Holland said. "It was crazy. We wanted to get another (punt return) and keep it going and keep our offense off the field the whole game."
Winter Haven scored two more times in the second quarter on a 3-yard run by Holland and a 23-yard pass from Darian Mills to Darius James to take a 36-0 halftime lead and force a second-half running clock.
Through it all, Winter Haven's defense held Sebring to 97 yards of total offense and picked up the shutout.
"Defense is about a mindset," Winter Haven head coach Charlie Tate said. "And it's nice when you get a shutout so you can start preaching that this is how you are supposed to play. Good defenses win football games not great offenses. It's nice to watch offense, but defense wins. So it was nice for those guys to build some confidence."
Five miles away Lake Gibson beat Lake Region 52-0 to ensure the Blue Devils would win the district championship tie-breaker even if they lose to Lake Region on Nov. 1.
"I think we are getting healthy at the right time and I think our momentum is where it needs to be. And I think the rest will do us good." Tate said. "Sebring looked pretty good on film and they had some wins stacked on top of wins. But I was pleased with the way our kids came out tonight and set a tone. Special teams jumped on them."
For the Streaks, the loss drops them to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in district play, giving them a chance still to reach the playoffs.
They will host Lely Friday for their own Homecoming game and then host Lake Gibson the following week, where a win would get them into postseason play.
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