Patriots lose to Countryside, 17-7
By Kyle LoJacono
CLEARWATER — Freedom set a school record with seven wins this season, but lost to Countryside in the Class 5A regional quarterfinals, 17-7.
The Patriots (7-3) were unable to complete the upset of the Cougars (10-1), but that does not take away from their historical season.
“We did an excellent job of reaching our first phase of goals this season,” first-year Freedom coach James Harrell said. “We wanted to have a winning season and make the playoffs, and we did that. But the ultimate goal is to win a state title and we, unfortunately, couldn’t do that.”
Harrell knows what a state championship-caliber team looks like. He was the defensive coordinator for four years at Plant, where his teams won two 4A titles.
Despite the year coming to an end, Harrell sees this season as a stepping-stone to something greater.
“This year we were just happy to be here,” Harrell said. “Next year we want to get back here and get some wins. This is just the beginning for us.”
The final score does not indicate how close the game was. The Cougars got on the board with a field goal — the only points of the first half. The Patriots defense kept the Countryside offense in check for most of the first half by forcing a turnover on downs and with the help of a Robert Lohnes interception.
Freedom’s offense had trouble moving to ball most of the game. Quarterback Tyler Guy was sacked six times, but was able to lead his team down the field on a scoring drive that ended in a 30-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Mutcherson.
On Countryside’s next possession, Mutcherson sacked Jimbo Chmelik. The hit forced a fumble that Mutcherson recovered. The Patriots had the momentum to start the second half, but could not put up any more points.
The Patriots defense bent all night long without breaking, but the larger Cougars were finally able to wear them down by the fourth. The final frame started with a 14-yard touchdown run by Terry Johnson that put the Cougars up for good.
Even though his high school career is over, Mutcherson knows the season has helped all the players.
“It was hard to follow coach Harrell’s system in the beginning because it is so tough,” said Mutcherson. “At first I thought this is too hard, but when I saw that it was making us all better I knew it was the right system. Coach Harrell is a great coach and has made us all much better players.”
ARMWOOD 22, SICKLES 9: The team with the most wins in Sickles history came up just short of upsetting Armwood.
The Gryphons (8-3) scored nine straight points to take a fourth-quarter lead, but the Hawks (11-1) came right back with 15 in the final quarter.
The Gryphons were without their starting quarterback, John Melvin Hendrick, who dislocated a growth plate in his left wrist the week before. Backup Scott O’Donoghue had 93 rushing yards in the triple-option offense, while Hillsborough County rushing leader, Cary White, had 71.
Sickles’ only touchdown came on a 29-yard pass from wide receiver Chris Nahat to Brieann Dollard.
CARROLLWOOD DAY PREP 61, FOUNDATION CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 21: Carrollwood Day Prep rebounded from losing its last regular season game by crushing Foundation Christian Academy.
It was a productive but painful game for the Patriots. Darius Bing had 84 rushing yards before breaking his rib. Matt Monteilh had two rushing touchdowns and 122 yards before breaking his foot. Billy Embody had 256 passing yards and three touchdowns, two to Michael Kanter.
On defense, Deuce Gruden had 16 tackles, while Dillon Floyd had three interceptions.
Countryside 17, Freedom 7
Armwood 22, Sickles 9
Carrollwood Day Prep 61, Foundation Christian Academy 21