Plant City, Strawberry Crest Fall To East Bay In Class 7A Three-Team Tiebreaker Drama

By Tamas Mondovics

When the 2013 fall football season began, the attention turned to Plant City, but after East Bay upset Durant with a 10-7 victory, anything was possible.From the get-go, the Raiders were favored to win the much-coveted district title, which a year earlier went to the area rival and then to the undefeated Durant Cougars led by head coach, Mike Gottman.

The season was set to offer plenty of excitement.Of course, the beauty of any high school sport is its unpredictability, which has once again played out in a three-team tiebreaker involving Plant City (7-2), Strawberry Crest (6-3) and East Bay (7-3).At the end, however, for the first time since 1973, the district championship went to East Bay, thanks to a couple of last-minute touchdowns by the Indians to win the Class 7A, District 8 title at Raiders Stadium in Plant City.East Bay Coach Frank LaRosa’s words early in the season came rushing back when the final whistle was blown and the battle-tested team’s district championship became a reality.

“I don’t care much about what anyone says or predicts that’s gonna happen this season,” LaRosa said early in the season. “As I have said before, it all comes down to what happens on the field. And that is where it counts.”And it did, at least for now as the Indians moved on to take Gaither at home in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.The Raiders 6-0 win over the Chargers ended the much improved Strawberry Crest program’s hopes of its first playoff appearance and sent Plant City to face off Sickles for the 7A region quarterfinals.

Area teams in Class 8A District 6 enjoyed a solid season as well with Bloomingdale coming close to its first playoff chance in five years, while Newsome finished the season with a 5-5 record, followed by Riverview (2-7), led by former East Bay Coach Michael Thornton.For more post-season information, please visit www.fhsaa.org.