Hey, Manatee County, are you ready for some playoff football?
The Palmetto High football team walked onto the home field of undefeated Pinellas Park on Friday night and didn’t flinch.
The seventh-seeded Tigers jumped to a big early lead and kept their foot on the gas, cruising to a 38-21 win over the No. 2 Patriots in a Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
It’s the second consecutive season Palmetto traveled to Pinellas County and beat the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs.
Palmetto (8-3) will continue its playoff run next week with a trip to sixth-seeded Valrico Bloomingdale, a 45-8 winner over Fort Myers Riverdale.
Corrian Brown’s 9-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter made the score 38-7 against a Pinellas Park team that averaged 47 points a game during the regular season.
The Patriots picked up two touchdowns in the final 2:09 with the help of a 63-yard kickoff return and a Palmetto fumble.
”It was all about the defense,” Palmetto head coach Dave Marino said. “Hats off the them. That’s a hell of an offense we faced tonight. We missed a couple of offensive opportunities but we got it done.”
Johnny Jones scored the first touchdown on a short run, and quarterback Anthony Marino threw a pair of scoring passes, an 85-yard bomb to LaJohntay Wester and a 22-yard strike to Eddrayian Butler.
Marino also scored on a quarterback sneak, and Rafael Gonzalez added a 21-yard field goal.
”We’re peaking at the right time and we’re battle-tested,” Dave Marino said. “We aren’t undefeated but those losses were close games and we learned from them and got better.
“Our kids have a lot of confidence and they’re working hard every day to get better. We’re still a work in progress. I’m excited to see how we continue to progress over these next few weeks.”