By Jeff Odom
The Laker/Lutz News Correspondent
In the hours leading up to Sunlake’s spring football jamboree May 25 Seahawks quarterback Josh Zifer felt the butterflies swirling in his stomach.
The reality that he was taking over under center for a playoff team almost overshadowed the fact he had never started at quarterback on the varsity level before — for a few minutes anyway.
The junior shook off the nervousness to lead Sunlake to victories against Wiregrass Ranch 21-3 and Wesley Chapel 10-0.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Zifer, a converted wide receiver. “I got an amazing team around me, and I’m just coming out here and working hard to do what I got to do.”
In first contest against the Bulls, Zifer and his wide receiver Eddie Burgos paced the Seahawks’ offense down the field. A shanked punt by Wiregrass Ranch gave Sunlake good field position.
With an unproven offensive line, which lost four starters from 2011, moving defenders backwards, Burgos put his squad in prime position to grab the early advantage with a 20-yard dash to the outside. After a dropped pass in the end zone, Zifer found a gap and ran the ball 38 yards for something he’s worked long hours for — a touchdown.
“We just came out with a mindset that everybody’s got to do their job, and that’s what (the offense) did there and it just clicked,” Zifer said.
Seahawks coach Bill Browning said there is still plenty of work to be done but was impressed with Zifer’s composure.
“He did some things very good, and I thought he did well for his first extended competition,” Browning said. “He’s been doing a great job with leadership and I (told him) ‘If you make a mistake, just let it go and get to the next play.’”
Zifer finished 1-for-6 passing for 34 yards and a touchdown.
After being shut out by Sunlake, Wesley Chapel defeated Wiregrass Ranch 20-7 despite fielding only 26 players. Coach Ben Alford said his Wildcats were hungry to prove they could compete on both sides of the ball.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Alford said. “They’ve worked hard and after the first game (against Sunlake) we didn’t get a break. We’re young, we’re not returning many starters and for these kids to rally around each other and play hard; I’ve never been more proud of a group. … I’ll take these 26 kids to battle any day.”
The Bulls wasted no time getting ahead, as Tyree Creary ran back the opening kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown. That was their only score of the contest, as the Wesley Chapel kept up the pressure and stifled the Wiregrass Ranch offense.
Bulls coach Jeremy Shobe, whose team has not won since Nov. 5, 2010, said it’s disappointing to lose against two rivals, but that his squad has a bright future ahead.
“We’re going to be fine, but we have work to do,” Shobe said. “We’ve got to execute better, and we have to come back from that. Fortunately, in a real game there’s four quarters.”
Wiregrass Ranch opens the regular season by hosting Wesley Chapel, while Sunlake travels to Hudson. Both games are Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.