Clearwater Central Catholic (8-1) claimed the Class 3A-District 5 crown on Friday with a 41-28 win against Cardinal Mooney at Austin Smithers Stadium at John Heath Field.
While the loss stung, it didn’t affect the Cougars (7-2) playoff chances. They had already locked up a spot in Class 3A playoffs that begin in two weeks.
“We lost the turnover battles and had too many negative plays,” Cougars senior quarterback Tristan Hillerich said. “We may end up seeing them again in a few weeks, so we’re going to have to get to work on Monday and find a way to get better.”
Hillerich knew of what he spoke. The Cougars threw three interceptions. However, Cardinal Mooney’s bigger challenge was trying to stop the Marauders’ Jervon Newton. He rushed for 200 yards on 29 carries, including a backbreaking 42-yard scamper in the final moments of the fourth quarter. Newton’s total Friday put him over 1,000 yards for the season.
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When Newton wasn’t slamming the Cougars defense, Clearwater quarterback Jakob Parks found success though the air.
He hooked up with C.J. Cotman on the second play of the game for a 52-yard strike and a 7-0 lead.
Hillerich responded with a 45-yard completion to Meko Mayes on the ensuing drive. Bryce Williams put the final stamp on the drive with a 4-yard scoring run to tie the game at 7.
But after Newton scored early in the second quarter on a 1-yard plunge, the Cougars were playing catch up from then on.
“We can’t let this get us down. They’re a good team. We know that, but if we clean up the mistakes we can play with them,” said wide receiver Ryan Blechta. “It’s tough now, but there’s a lot of football left.”
The Cougars will have one more game before opening their playoff run. They travel to Bayshore next Friday night for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Clearwater C. Catholic 41, Cardinal Mooney 28
Clearwater Central Catholic
CCC– C.J. Cotman 52 pass from Jakob Parks (Preston McDonald kick), 11:10
CM– Bryce Williams 4 run (Ryan Blechta kick), 7:36
CCC– Jervon Newton 4 run ( McDonald kick), 9:09
CCC– Ra’Shaad Stewart 5 run (McDonald kick), 5:58
CM– Meko Mayes 5 pass from Tristan Hillerich (Blechta kick), 5:44
CCC– Dilan Scargle 4 pass from Jakob Parks (McDonald kick), 3:00
CM– Hillerich 1 run (kick failed), 1:07
CCC– Newton 5 run (kick failed), 8:30
CCC– Newton 42 run (McDonald kick), 3:33
CM– Hillerich 5 run (Mayes pass from Hillerich), 0:27
Rushing: Clearwater Central Catholic: Newton 29-200, Parks 9-24, Cotman 3-15, Stewart 1-2. Totals: 42-241. Cardinal Mooney: Hillerich 9-16, Williams 25-96. Totals: 34-112.
Passing: Clearwater Central Catholic: Parks 6-17-92-2 Totals: 6-17-92-2. Cardinal Mooney: Hillerich 15-28-183-0 Totals: 15-28-183-0.
Receiving: Clearwater Central Catholic: Cotman 2-53, Newton 1-14, Musgrove 1-7, Scargle 2-18.Cardinal Mooney: Mayes 7-98, Sean White 3-45, Jack Koscho 2-13, Blechta 2-27. Totals: 14-183.
Who: Cardinal Mooney at Bayshore
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.