Eagles soar to gridiron glory

Tyler Higbee, Staff Writer

     It’s that time of year again when Friday nights are devoted to one thing and one event only, Friday Night Football. As the high school season rolls around, everyone on and off campus is getting excited.

     Before the season gets started, every team needs preparation and the boys of East Lake High School have been practicing in the grueling summer heat since August 1, 2010. East Lake had a pre-season game against Land O’ Lakes High School on August 28.  The final score was 29-28 with East Lake coming out on top. The Varsity team played the first three quarters and came up short, losing 28-14, but the Junior Varsity played the fourth quarter and bailed them out with 15 unanswered points to get the victory for East Lake. The first half was highlighted by a 90 yard kick return by freshman Artavis Scott. The talented freshman scored the first time he had ever touched the ball in high school play. The team knew what really counted was the game week one against St. Petersburg High School.  After this one the Eagles would officially have a record.

     Another week of preparation was in order to regroup and work out the kinks after the loss to Land O’ Lakes and St. Pete right around the corner. The Eagles took on the St. Pete Green Devils on Friday, September 3 and wanted to start the season off right with a 1-0 record. The game had high hopes of being a good one after the past two years came down to a special teams play to determine who wins the game. Last year a blocked field goal with no time remaining gave St. Pete the win, 14-11, and two years ago it was a botched snap with less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter to give the Eagles an 11-9 win. This year was different. The Green Devils jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The Eagles’ defense had a hard time stopping St. Pete’s high powered rushing attack, which racked up a total of 268 yards on the ground. The Eagles offense out-gained St. Pete and had better numbers statistically but made some costly mistakes and couldn’t get the ball in the end zone until the fourth quarter when it was too late. St. Pete took the win, 36-13, giving the Eagles a record of 0-1. It wasn’t exactly the start the Eagles were looking for but they were very impressed with the play of sophomore quarterback Pete Dinovo, who put up big numbers through the air and on the ground. The Eagles looked to bounce back in week 2 when they take on Largo High School.

     In game 2 for the Eagles they relied on their defense. After two games of giving up at least four touchdowns, the Eagles defense stepped up and shut down the Packers. Other than a 70 yard touchdown run by Largo’s Derek Doss, the Eagles’ defense was stout. They created five turnovers, two via interception by Drew McGuiness and Patrick Milan and three fumbles recovered. East Lake’s offense took advantage of the good play by their defense and turned it into 21 points. The offensive scoring was lead by quarterback Pete Dinovo who had two rushing touchdowns, each from one yard, and also had a passing touchdown to senior wide receiver Tyler Higbee. The Eagles needed the win going into the rival game against Tarpon and got their record back to .500.

     Week 3 was East Lake’s most important game as of yet with it being a rival and both teams looking to take a step in the right direction and add another one to the win column. The Eagles and Spongers were both 1-1 and needed the win going into District games. The energy was in the air for this one with neither team liking its opponent more than usual. The Spongers struck first with a field goal in the first quarter and then the Eagles took over. The Eagles were lead by junior running back Tyler Lane who had 21 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown. East Lake capped the night off with a Pete Dinovo touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Artavis Scott to seal the win in the fourth quarter 26-10. In East Lake’s 23 year existence they have never beaten the Spongers back to back years until 2010. This was the first senior class to ever beat the Spongers their junior and senior year. Also they were part of the first class to ever beat the Spongers at East Lake’s home field. This was a big win for the Eagles going into their first district game against Clearwater High School. “These are the games that count. It was a big win, getting the confidence we needed going into our district game against Clearwater,” said Senior Captain Logan Williamson.

     On Friday, the Eagles picked up their first district win at Clearwater, going two games above .500 and getting a head start on district rivals Palm Harbor and Countryside High School. The Eagles also look to make the playoffs for the second year in a row and advance deep in the playoffs.