Zephyrhills Christian one step closer to perfection
By Kyle LoJacono
Zephyrhills Christian Academy’s six-man football team remained undefeated by downing Academy at the Lakes 54-13 Oct. 8.
The Warriors (9-0) managed to fight off the Wildcats (5-4) by focusing on running the ball to take advantage of the academy’s pass rush.
“Our line had 100 percent improvement from last week,” Warriors coach Mike Smith said. “They’re just getting a lot tougher. They’re able to read defenses and schemes and that’s huge at this level to be able to see where the defense is and call doubles. Our passing game just didn’t have it because they were sending so many kids on rushes, but Josh (Roberts) was able to tuck the ball in and make them pay.”
Roberts, a junior running back, had seven rushing touchdowns in the game on 10 carries. The longest scores were of 63, 60 and 49 yards. Roberts, who is the brother of Zephyrhills High wide receiver and defensive back Jamal Roberts, had 285 yards in the contest.
“They were sending the blitz and I was able to bounce it to the outside,” Roberts said. “The line did their job and opened up holes for me.”
One of the leaders on the Warriors line is junior Tim Thurston.
“It was difficult at first,” said Thurston. “I got a little confused from their pass rush, but we talked about it and got together and did what we needed.”
While the Warriors won by six touchdowns, the 13 points scored by the Wildcats were more than any other team had put up against Zephyrhills Christian all year. The Warriors have recorded six shutouts and allowed just seven points entering the contest against the academy.
“As far as on defense, they’re really smooth with the ball,” Smith said of the Wildcats offense. “You have to watch the ball against them because they were kind of tricky and confusing.”
The night started promising for the Wildcats, who marched the game’s opening drive 52 yards ending with a 10-yard touchdown run by senior running back Luke Warner. The Wildcats’ two-point attempt failed.
The Warriors responded with a 40-yard touchdown run by Josh Roberts on their first play from scrimmage. Zephyrhills Christian added the extra point to take the lead for good.
“You got to give it to (Roberts) because he had a fantastic night,” said John Castelamare, who coached at Wesley Chapel High for 10 years before coming to the academy this year.
Warner had 41 yards rushing on eight carries and one touchdown. The other academy score came on a 23-yard run by junior running back Jarrett Harvey, who added 79 yards on 16 carries. The Warriors did limit Wildcats junior quarterback A.J. Carlson to four for six passing for 28 yards and no touchdowns.
Roberts believes the tough matchup will help the team come playoff time.
“It’s good to face better teams like (the academy) because our first four games weren’t that competitive,” Roberts said. “This was the most competitive game we’ve had and it’ll help us. We’re getting our momentum and getting ready for the playoffs.”
Zephyrhills Christian finishes the regular season at FISH (Families Instructing Students HomeSchool) Oct. 15. The academy plays the same night at Clearwater Academy International.