High School football is back and the Tarpon Springs Spongers showed what they had to offer this season by defeating the Anclote Sharks, 28-3
Although only a preseason game, both teams were ready to come out to play, showing the tense rivalry both on and off the field.
“We took the comments that we got on Facebook and before the game and proved to them that this is how hard we work,” said RB Michael Ford after celebrating the victory. “We really just took all the negative and turned it into a positive.”
Going into the game, the Spongers had grim reminders of their 3-7 record from last year, but Head Coach Ron Hawn reminded his players of the importance of the season: "Win to Play".
“We dealt with adversity last year and were not going to let that get to us now, it’s a clean slate, said Hawn. “This season, like I have stressed to my team, is all about character. I want to be able to have good athletes that I can trust and know that they can motivate and lead this team.
Starting quarterbacks for the game were Jarrett Battyani for Tarpon Springs and Brandon Vinkler for Anclote.
In the first quarter, Tarpon got the early momentum going when powerhouse RB Montel Johnson scored the first touchdown game, followed by a field goal by Louis Zerkos. RB Patrick Miller would assist in scoring another touchdown for the Spongers, bringing the score to 14-0.
Tarpon’s defense would also prove their might, preventing the Sharks from scoring before the end of the first half.
The Spongers held the Anclote offense in check, until Tymere Carter set up the Sharks for a field goal with 27 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. Kicker CJ Peppe knocked through a 39-yard field goal making it a 14-3 game in the opening minutes of the 4th quarter.
The Spongers would strike back with the help of the dream team of Ford and Miller. Ford would score his first touchdown of the game, before finishing with over 130 rushing yards. Miller would answer back, after a Sharks fumble, with a 3-yard touchdown run giving the Spongers a 28-3 win.
Ford says he is excited for the regular season to be starting next week and plans on setting a personal record for himself this season.
“It’s going to be great to be back in action next week against the Tornadoes,” said Ford. “This season, I plan on rushing 200 yards every game and breaking a few school records this year.”
Next week the Spongers head to Clearwater, where they will face the Tornadoes. Anclote will host Mitchell.