PALMETTO -- There probably isn't a football coach that wouldn't agree that one game doesn't make a season. In some cases, there might even be a three-game margin of error.
One coach with the latter in mind might be Palmetto's Dave Marino.
Despite opening the season with three setbacks, the Tigers still had a big goal in their sights - the postseason. Friday, Palmetto took the first step toward that goal opening District 7A-District 10 play with a 21-0 win over visiting North Port.
The triumph, in the district opener for both teams improves Palmetto to 1-3, while North Port has a 2-2 ledger.
"We can't be more proud of these guys week in and week out," Marino said. "They're going to play hard for 48 minutes. Tonight, they played a little harder, dug a little deeper and they got the win they deserved."
As for the early setbacks, Marino placed a lot of importance on the start heading into district play.
"They meant something and they helped us," he said. "They helped us get better and prepare for our district matchups. Those teams are 8-1 and we played some of the best teams in the state."
Playing in a steady shower from the start, early indications were whoever scored first would come away with
the victory. With most of the combined 13 fumbles coming from mishandled center/quarterback exchanges, the first half ended with zeroes on the scoreboard.
Finally in the third quarter, the host Tigers got all the points they would need when linebacker Bradley Wyatt fell on a fumble by North Port quarterback Christian Vanderveer for a touchdown. The missed point-after attempt left Palmetto holding a 6-0 lead with 8:47 left in the third quarter.
"It was just crazy - I never had something like that my entire life," Wyatt said. "But it was all Ty'Ron Sumpter. He popped the ball out and I saw it, grabbed it and I was in the end zone. I definitely felt the defense was going to have to pull us out of this one."
Palmetto got some insurance scoring late in the period on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jack Allison to Dearius Washington. Keandre Land finished the game's scoring for the Tigers, falling on a North Port fumble in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With most of the offense coming on the ground, Quincy Washington led the Tigers with a game-high 90 yards on 19 carries. Zefen Bruno paced North Port with 68 yards on 20 tries.
"The win was major," Quincy Washington said. "We needed this for the district, our team and to come out better this week."
North Port's best scoring opportunity to score came in the game's final minute. The Bobcats, behind backup quarterback Michael Innello marched to a first and goal at the Palmetto one, but the Tiger defense stiffened and preserved the shutout.
"There's a reason they say defense wins championships because you're going to have to play in these conditions," Marino said. "That (stand) epitomized it at the end."