By Michael Murillo
At our press time, the 2012 high school football season is only two games old, but this year’s Wesley Chapel bragging rights already belong to Wesley Chapel High (WCH), following the Wildcats’ 30-6 dismantling of Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH) in the regular season football opener for both local high schools.
Against the Bulls in the opening game, WCH didn’t have a single three-and-out and ran for 238 yards on nearly 50 rushing attempts. Most of that production came from senior running back Daquan Caesar, who accounted for 178 rushing yards and two scores by himself (he also was the game’s leading receiver with 38 yards). On defense, the ‘Cats scored a touchdown and a safety, and recorded 4.5 sacks. Junior Josias Vizcano led the team with 2.5 sacks, and chipped in two tackles and two assists as well.
The Wildcats followed up the win over WRH with a 45-0 loss to Orlando’s First Academy. This time it was the Orlando school which ran the ball at will, netting more than 300 yards on the ground (averaging more than 10 yards per carry) and limiting Wesley Chapel to just 77 yards of total offense. The ‘Cats crossed midfield just one time the entire game.
While there are rarely bright spots in a shutout loss, it should be noted that the team purposely scheduled a challenging non-District opponent in its second game. The First Academy Royals won a 3A District title last season and had many players returning from that successful campaign. In addition, WCH’s offensive star of their first game, Caesar, didn’t play in Game 2, for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
WCH head coach Ben Alford said he feels good about what the team has shown in its first two games.
“It’s going well,” Alford says. “We have a loss in there, but we played a really good team,” he said. “We can compete in the District.”
Neither of the previous contests were district games, but WCH’s Class 5A, District 6 schedule is about to begin. The ‘Cats will play all seven team in the District in a row, starting with a contest at the Zephyrhills Bulldogs the day you receive this issue. WCH then hosts the Fivay Falcons on Sept. 28 and the Pasco Pirates on Oct. 5. Alford’s squad is looking to build on its 6-4 record from 2011.
WRH Still Winless
Meanwhile, the Wiregrass Ranch High Bulls have continued the struggles that saw them finish without a win during the 2011 season. Following the loss to WCH in the season opener, the Bulls came a little closer against Land O’Lakes Sunlake High, but still dropped to 0-2 with a 17-12 loss to the Seahawks.
In Game 1, the Bulls actually out-passed the Wildcats, with sophomore QB Shane Bucenell completing half his passes for 98 yards and a score. But, WRH was unable to control the run game on either side of the ball, giving up 238 yards rushing while compiling just 26 themselves. Seniors Jake Day (38 combined rushing and receiving yards) and Ryan Shea (37 total yards) paced the team in a difficult offensive contest.
In Game 2 at the Sunlake Seahawks, who were coming off an impressive 44-6 victory in their own opener, WRH fell behind 17-0 in the first half before coming back with a pair of scores, but ultimately lost 17-12. In that game, Day took over at QB for an ineffective Bucenell and threw a 75-yard scoring strike to Shea. But, the Bulls’ run game was even less effective (registering -12 yards on 15 carries) and the team completed only two passes the entire contest. While the Bulls’ defense gave up more than 350 total yards, the unit also forced five turnovers to keep the game close.
WRH administrator of athletics Jimmie DuBose acknowledges the setbacks of coach Jeremy Shobe’s charges, but said the team’s spirit remains strong. Neither game affected the team’s standing in District 7A-7.
“That was a tough game to deal with,” DuBose said of the Sunlake loss. “But I think the attitude of the players and coaches is still positive. They’re going to keep giving it 100 percent.”
WRH was set to host the Pasco Pirates in a third non-District game before getting into its District 7A-7 schedule with games at the Gaither Cowboys as you receive this issue and at home versus the Tampa Bay Tech Titans on Oct. 5. The Bulls are still looking for their first win since 2010 after enduring an 0-10 season last year.