Prep football | Palmetto offense has big day in 42-0 rout of Wauchula Hardee

Tuten tallies 304 yards, 5 TDs in 42-0 triumph

jlembo@bradenton.comOctober 20, 2012 

WAUCHULA -- The Palmetto Tigers know how to prioritize.

Yes, next week's game at Manatee is a big one.

But the bigger one was in Wauchula on Friday, especially because the Hardee Wildcats are a Class 5A-District 10 opponent.

If the Tigers' attention was elsewhere, it didn't show en route to a 42-0 victory that pushed Palmetto's overall record to 7-0 and its district mark to 3-0.

"We're more focused on the district games," said senior receiver E.J. Burston, who scored on an 11-yard touchdown run and had two catches for 17 yards. "Next week is a big game, bragging rights and everything for Manatee County, but we're trying to get these district games.

"First is a district championship, then we can move on to state."

Palmetto ran just 42 plays but scored

on six of them thanks to an offense refreshed by last week's bye. Cory Crawford, who hadn't played in three weeks, scored on a pair of catch-and-runs within two minutes of each other late in the first half.

The first went for 39 yards, and the second went for 67. Both passes came courtesy of quarterback Chris Tuten, who threw for 304 yards and five touchdowns.

"It was huge," coach Dave Marino said of the bye week. "We really went about it the right way -- we got some good work in, but we got some rest in."

On the Tigers' first play from scrimmage, running back Josh Hicks took a screen pass from Tuten and broke seven tackles on his way to a 52-yard touchdown.

It was a harbinger of what was to come.

Palmetto's longest scoring drive lasted five plays, and the Tigers needed one play to score on three separate occasions.

"We know we have that capability. We're blessed," Marino said. "We have some great athletes ... and it's just our job to continue to put them in a position to be successful. And that's what we did. We have a great coaching staff that sees things, and we make adjustments to the game scripts."

Palmetto's defense was just as effective, limiting Hardee (2-5, 1-1) to 113 total yards.

With the Wildcats in the rearview mirror, the Tigers can focus on the Hurricanes, ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps and USA Today and also 7-0 following Friday's win at Venice.

Palmetto (Class 5A) and Manatee (Class 7A) are ranked No. 1 in the state in their respective classifications.

"They're good," Marino said of Manatee, which won last year's game 29-26. "We're going to give them our best shot."

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