By Tamas Mondovics

SPORTS_IMGM0955 Crispian Atkins (28)The handful of East Bay fans that traveled to Durant High School to support their team’s final game of the season had to wait until the last minute before Indians’ quarterback Ian Kuykendall put his mark on the scoreboard with a one-yard push on the goal-line.

A minute later, East Bay, (Overall 4-6 District 1-3) led by fourth-year Head Coach Frank LaRosa, ended a tough, long season. The Indians 28-7 loss paved the way for Durant to earn its 7A District 8 title.

“I am very proud of you guys,” LaRosa told his players just moments after the game. “We knew it was going to be a tough season. We had our ups and downs but you worked hard and didn’t give up. Great job.”

LaRosa’s closing words to his players were to the point and gave testimony to the kind of coaching that merits the respect from players, coaches, parents and fans alike.

Battling a solid team, East Bay was not going to leave empty handed. After a strong drive down the field, the Indians gave it all SPORTS_IMGM0975they had left. In the fourth quarter, sitting on the goal-line with no more chances as the clock set at 1:10, Kuykendall pushed his way through the Cougars defense, earning his and his team’s final touchdown of the season.

Within minutes and only a few miles up the road, the Plant City Raiders scored a 20-14 win over Brandon, giving the program its runner-up status as well as handed the Cougars the district championship.

LaRosa emphasized that starting the season after the loss of nearly two dozen seniors meant a much different season for the program.

“We have a lot to overcome, including the replacement of our quarterback who has started 25 games,” he said. “We have a young team with room to grow.”

SPORTS_IMG_0508Before walking off the field for the last time this year, La Rosa reminded his players what is now ahead.

“Our challenge now is for you younger players to step up your game, in the classroom as well as in the gym,” he said. “We have to move forward. Overcome the downs and return next year a much stronger team.”

For more information of the rest of the post season, visit www.fhsaa.org.