'Cats throttle Streaks

SEBRING - The Sebring football team continues to be its own worst enemy. The Blue Streaks turned the ball over three times and racked up more than 100 yards in penalties in losing to Hardee by a score of 21-0 on Friday night at Firemen's Field. The win improved the Class 5A Wildcats to 2-1, while the disappointing loss dropped the Class 6A Blue Streaks to 2-1. "That was a good old-fashioned butt whipping," said Sebring coach LaVaar Scott. "We had a lot of mental mistakes and penalties and you can't do that against a team as good as Hardee. "We have a good football team too, but if we don't stop these self-inflicted wounds it's going to be a tough season."
Sebring, which was looking for a win against Hardee for the second consecutive year, went nowhere on its opening possession of the game and the Wildcats took over at their 35. Hardee senior quarterback Kris Johnson engineered a nine-play, 65-yard drive capped off with a 12-yard scoring toss to junior wide receiver Jordan Jones, who caught a deflection in the right corner of the end zone. It looked like the Blue Streaks had stopped the drive when they recovered a fumble on their 5-yard line, but a facemask penalty against Sebring gave the ball back to the Wildcats. The extra point by Rodrigo Rodriguez made it 7-0 with 4:07 remaining in the first quarter. "Our defense makes a great play to get the ball back, but we make a silly mistake and grab the facemask and wipe out the play," Scott said. Sebring got the ball and moved inside Wildcat territory behind the strong running of tailback Giovanni Jenkins. But the swarming Wildcat defense stiffened and forced a Blue Streak punt. Neither team could move the ball with any consistency until Sebring took advantage of a short punt and took possession at the Hardee 39 midway through the second quarter. Jenkins, who finished with 62 yards rushing, ripped off a 31-yard scamper to give the Blue Streaks first-and-goal at the 8-yard line. A late hit against Hardee moved the ball to the 3-yard line, but the drive stalled and a 23-yard field goal by Hunter Livingston was blocked to leave the score at 7-0 at the half. Hardee took the second half kick and marched 75 yards in eight plays as Johnson broke free on a scramble on fourth-and-goal and raced 12 yards for the score. The point after made it 14-0 with 8:26 left in the period. Sebring took possession at its 31 and moved across midfield behind its rushing attack, which was without the services of senior A.J. Gayle, who tried to play on a sprained ankle, but couldn't continue. The drive came to an end when a pass from quarterback Connor Cook was intercepted by Hardee's Marco Deleon at the Wildcat 38. Hardee fumbled the ball giving Sebring excellent field position and a chance to get back in the game. But the Blue Streaks fumbled the ball right back to the Wildcats. A Hardee pass was intercepted by Sebring's Demaratre Loculien at the Blue Streak 27, but the offense went backwards thanks to a pair of sacks. A punt gave the Wildcats the ball at their own 32. Hardee scored in four plays with Johnson throwing a short pass to wide receiver Derrick Grahman who broke a pair of tackles and sprinted down the left sideline for a 57-yard touchdown. The extra point put the Wildcats on top by a score of 21-0. "We had our chances and we gave the ball right back to Hardee," Scott said. "We have got to get this fixed so we quit hurting ourselves." Sebring used all three of its quarterbacks looking for some kind of offensive spark, but the Wildcat defense was up to the task against the run or the pass. The Blue Streaks moved inside the Wildcat 20 late in the game but time ran out on the scoring attempt. "We fought the whole game, but we kept making mistakes," Scott said. Sebring is back in action on Friday with a road game at LaBelle. "We're going to work hard in practice this week on fixing us," the Blue Streak coach said. "We're a little banged up and we need to get some guys healthy and get ready for a road trip to LaBelle." mpinson@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5837