By Tamas Mondovics
The recent battle between Class 7A-District 8 rivals Strawberry Crest and Durant High was a much-anticipated game with both sides needing nothing less than a win to earn a step closer to a post season spot.
At the end, however, the hope-boosting 11-10 win went to the visiting Chargers, setting the young program up to next face East Bay and district title-favored Plant City Raiders.
Ahead of the game, Chargers head coach and former Armwood High School football player and assistant coach John Kelly, spoke highly of the IB school’s athletic program and its football team, emphasizing the respectable balance his players keep between academics and athletics.
“What I see in these players is the true meaning of the phrase student-athlete,” Kelly said. “I believe that you can really do both. Our goal is not just playing football but to do well both on and off the field and after graduation to be able to look back with pride at what was accomplished.”
Of course, once on the field, the team had just one focus; to get the job they train for done, which while it did not come easy and certainly not without plenty of mistakes has been accomplished.
The Cougars showed some strength at the start by putting the first three points on the board thanks to a 26-yard field goal by Derek Wells.
To answer back, Strawberry Crest took advantage of a 40-yard interception return by Joshua Engram to put six points
on the board, which the Chargers completed with a 2-point conversion, bringing the score to 8-3 at the end of the first half.
Cougars John Hendricks’ 75-yard run resulting in a 10-8 lead at the start of the second half got most Durant fans out of their seat.
Unfortunately, that was all the Cougars had left for the night to give. The Chargers sealed the game victory with a 38-yard field goal kick by sophomore Cameron Lehtola.
Kelly was proud of his players including junior Joshua Engram, seniors Josh Hyde and Matt Chaney just to name a few.
“We are a young developing program with a diverse mixture of students taking nothing for granted,” Kelly said.
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