On a rainy Friday night under the lights, the Central Bears football team (3-1) swamped the Anclote Sharks (1-2) by a commanding 44-8 score at home. The Bears’ Sept. 16 victory gave them their third straight win since their season-opening loss to the Citrus Hurricanes and all three were by 25 points or more. On the opposite end, the Sharks were coming off a loss to the Fivay Falcons (1-3) last week and their fortunes did not improve on Friday against the Bears. Central Head Coach Jim Pusateri was pleased with how his players performed and how they have come along this season.
“We’re getting better,” the Bears’ head coach said. “Let’s put it that way. They’re still a little sluggish. Too many rain games, I can tell you that. Offensively, defensively, great job on both sides. I mean our guys are buying in and doing the best they can. They get better every day. So, they come to practice, they been working their butts off all summer in that 90-degree heat. I got here a year ago, we had 24 guys. We got 80 now. So, we’re pretty thrilled, pretty happy. We’re three in a row.”
What did the Bears do to earn their third win of the season? It started early in the soggy first quarter when Central’s suffocating defense forced a turnover on downs after Anclote decided to go for it on fourth down. The home team would then convert their next possession into a touchdown thanks to Junior Quarterback Braden Joyner’s pass to Senior Wide Receiver Caden Bergantino on a 4th and 2 from the 12-yard line. With this, the rout was on. On their next drive, the Sharks quickly found themselves facing a 4th and 20 in the shadow of their own goalpost. This was after a pair of unsuccessful runs, an incomplete pass by Sophomore Quarterback Paul Fousek, and an unsportsmanlike penalty set them behind the sticks. Despite this, the visitors attempted to fake the punt with a run by Senior Wide Receiver Dominic Marotta. Anclote failed to convert, and the Bears’ offense marched back out on the field with excellent field position. Two quick plays later and the home team was on the board again. Joyner called his own number and carried the ball up the middle for a two-yard touchdown run to give the Bears a 12-0 lead with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter.
While the navy-clad home team would not score again in the first, it only took about two minutes into the second for them to find the endzone. This was thanks in part to more Anclote penalties. Over the span of two drives in the second quarter, the Sharks committed five false starts, one holding, and one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Central capitalized and scored a pair of touchdowns in the second to bring the score to a 25-0 margin at the half. Coming out of the break, the home team would log another 19 points on a pair of touchdown runs by Senior Running back Evan Spears and a 60-yard tip drill reception by Junior Wide Receiver Seth Hamlet. Despite their 36-point drubbing of the Sharks, Coach Pusateri feels there were still some aspects of the game that could be cleaned up moving forward.
“One: we got to kick them extra points,” the head coach said. I can tell you that. That’s for sure and we got to work on tackling still. Got to get better at tackling. So, that’s about the two things.” Of the Bears’ seven touchdowns, four extra points were missed, two were made, and a two-point conversion was unsuccessful. As for the missed tackles, many of these ended up being innocuous as they were negated by penalties or stalled Anclote drives. These miscues will need to be fixed, but it is much easier to clean up mistakes after a win – let alone a blowout – as opposed to a loss.
The Bears will look to address these issues when they travel to play the Gulf High School Buccaneers next Friday. While the Buccaneers have had a rocky start to the season, a win over a surging Central would be a feather in their cap. Coach Pusateri’s squad will look to extend its winning streak to four with a win at Gulf High School on Friday night.