By Jeff Odom
The Steinbrenner football team earned its first Class 7A-District 7 win of the season, pounding Wiregrass Ranch 48-10 at home Oct. 26.
The Warriors (3-5) used their run game and defense to dominate as they forced five turnovers and scored five rushing touchdowns.
Bulls (0-8) quarterback Shane Bucenell was intercepted on the game’s opening play by Shyheem Barthel, to set up his own 3-yard scoring run on the ensuing drive.
Steinbrenner’s offense started to roll from there.
“It felt good to get the win, finally,” said Barthel, who finished with six carries for 91 yards. “After so many losses, I felt like we came together tonight and it showed on the field.”
The Warriors continued to find success on its very next drive, as the running trio of halfback Kendall Pearcey, Jack Carroll and Barthel combined for 65 yards on the ground.
Pearcey, who finished off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown, said it felt good to get back into the groove.
“We knew coming into this thing that we had in our mindset that we were going to come out and win this,” said Pearcey, who finished with 103 yards on 12 attempts and two scores. “Our offensive line blocked the best they’ve blocked all season. We just weren’t going to lose.”
Wiregrass Ranch could not stop Steinbrenner’s offensive for the rest of the second quarter. The Warriors added three more touchdowns before halftime, including a 21-yard run by quarterback Curtis Fitch (4 for 10, 140-yards, one touchdown) that set up Carroll from 4 yards out.
Fitch also hooked up with Jon Marc Carrier on a 64-yard scoring pass to enter the locker room leading 34-3.
Steinbrenner coach Andres Perez said he thought his squad showed its potential in the first half, something he’s been waiting for all season.
“That was fun to watch,” Perez said. “Those guys, they blocked for each other and to me, that’s the key. Once you see backs blocking for other backs and enjoying the game, that’s what it’s all about.”
The Warriors would not let up after halftime as the defense continued to pressure the Bulls. They picked off Bucenell two more times after the break, one by defensive lineman Bret Byler and the other a one-handed interception by Logan McKnight who returned it to the house for his squad’s final points.
The Bulls’ most successful drive came late in the third quarter.
Bucenell completed a 65-yard pass to wide receiver Ryan Shea and running back Elias Galvan Jr. found a hole for a 26-yard gain. Bucenell capped the drive with a 2-yard keeper on fourth-and-goal for a touchdown.
Perez said he was excited to see “fresh blood” performing on the field given that his squad is eliminated from playoff contention.
“At this point, we’re at the point this season where we need to keep building and get ready for next year,” Perez said. “Bottom line, we had a lot of kids that came out, seniors that played their butts off, and they played with pride today.”
Steinbrenner hosts Chamberlain Nov. 2 in the final home game of the season, while Wiregrass Ranch hosts Freedom. Both games kick off at 7:30 p.m.
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