By Kyle LoJacono
The Steinbrenner football team put up a program record 53 points and recorded its second shutout of the season en route to winning at Riverview 53-0 on Oct. 14.
The win comes less than a week after the Warriors (4-2) had a disappointing 37-7 defeat to Class 7A-District 7 rival Gaither that saw Steinbrenner lose nine turnovers.
“Last week was absolutely horrible,” said Warrior coach Floyd Graham. “I’ve never had a game in 21 years with nine turnovers. It was hard for the kids and hard for me. I was just proud of how everyone did because we were without one of our top running backs.”
Steinbrenner lost starting full back Jake Carroll for the year with a torn ACL he suffered during the opening kickoff against Gaither. The Warriors responded with a ground game that saw eight different players carry the rock.
Kendall Pearcy led the Warriors’ ground attack, posting 167 yards on eight carries and scoring runs of 5 and 80 yards. The junior also had a 60-yard scoring run called back because of a penalty on Steinbrenner’s first play. He also added a 15-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Curtis Fitch.
Steinbrenner’s Brian Gainer had 89 rushing yards on three carries, including a 43-yard score for his first varsity touchdown.
Nick Green ran the ball six times for 31 yards and a 26-yard touchdown.
“We tried three different kids at full back to replace Jake, and all three played great,” Graham said. “We were kind of geared around Jake at that full back position, so when he went down I told them I’ve got to give it to all three of you to see who wants it. I want you to come beg me for the ball, and they all showed they want it.”
The three replacements at full back included Green, Cody Cazin and A.J. Brown, who moved to the offense after starting the season as a linebacker. Brown had a 30-yard scoring run and a touchdown catch of 10 yards.
Fitch had scoring passes of 10, 15 and 20 yards for a career-high three touchdown throws. The sophomore led two scoring drives just before halftime to put the Warriors up 34-0 at the break.
“We drove the ball in 40 seconds and scored without using a timeout, and Fitch orchestrated a great drive,” Graham said. “Then we got a turnover and had a short field, so we jumped back into the 2-minute drill, and he threw another touchdown. We practice it every day, and when Fitch came off the field he said to me ‘That’s why we practice it.’”
Steinbrenner hosts Tampa Bay Tech on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The Titans are tied for first place in 7A-7 with Gaither, while the Warriors are a game back.
“Tech has size and speed, and I mean a lot of speed,” Graham said. “Our goal is to keep their offense off the ball and control the clock. It’s a big challenge. I wish we could get that Gaither game back to put us in a better situation, but this is a must win. The kids understand that, and they’re focused on what they need to do.”