BRADENTON -- Southeast is still looking for its first victory, but it may have found its defense, which is no small thing.
After allowing 55 points to Lakewood Ranch and giving up 42 to Venice in a Kickoff Classic, Southeast showed significant improvement in dropping a 16-6 contest to visiting Clearwater Countryside on Friday night at John Kiker Memorial Stadium.
"I thought we showed a tremendous amount of improvement on defense. Unfortunately with a young football team, the offense took a step backwards this week," Southeast head coach Paul Maechtle said.
The Seminoles (0-2) held Countryside (2-0) to three points in the first half and trailed 3-0 at the intermission in a game that was delayed about 40 minutes by bad weather. Southeast held the Cougars to 72 yards rushing in the first two
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Countryside, which is a perennially strong team, eventually hit the end zone in the third quarter when Robby Hicks hit Chris Ryan with a 25-yard scoring strike to take a 9-0 lead with 6:05 remaining in the period.
The Cougars seemed to put the game away in the fourth quarter when Hicks connected with Eric Patterson on a 9-yard touchdown pass to cap a 54-yard, seven-play drive.
Southeast continued to make mental mistakes that have been game killers. The worst came in the fourth quarter, when Courtney Allen returned a kickoff 90 yards for an apparent touchdown, but it was called back when Southeast was flagged for a block in the back on its own 14-yard line.
"We tried some kids at new positions on defense, and they rallied to the cause. We had some kids who hadn't had much success on defense all of a sudden they see the light," Maechtle said. "They ran to the ball. We got some nice play out of Billy Daniel, and Demitry Smith and Dyron Williams gave us some real good play at linebacker."
Jack Shinn struggled at quarterback. He threw for just 18 yards, hitting eight of 13 passes until there was 1:42 left in the game, when he threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Kadarrius Carley.
Courtney Allen came into the game needing 126 yards to break the school career rushing record of 2,863 yards held by Dyral McMillan, who was the workhorse running back on Southeast's two state championship teams.
Allen finished with 77 yards on 12 carries. He took several direct snaps when Southeast went to the Wildcat formation to try and get some life into its struggling offense. Unfortunately, on one play there was a bad snap, and he suffered a 13-yard loss.
Southeast couldn't get much offense going most of the game and finished with only 167 yards total offense from scrimmage with 75 coming on the pass to Carley. Countryside rushed for 133 yards and threw for 116 yards.
"We ran Courtney at Wildcat to try and get something going on offense. We are still trying to piece something together there," Maechtle said.
Daniel had five tackles, Greg Brevil had a sack and 3 tackles, and Brandon Smith had 5½ tackles to help the defense.