Eagles rough on Rattlers
The Highlands Youth Football & Cheer Organization (HYF) traveled to Cook Field to play the Haines City Rattlers on Saturday. The Eagles were ready for battle after several exciting games last week and looking to bring in some more wins. The first team to take the field was the Flag team, ages 5-6, which came out with a purpose on offense led by Marcus Gomez, Josh Hernandez, Leon Harris and Damari Cohen. Cohen quickly led the Eagles to an early lead with a touchdown and extra point scored by Hernandez. The Rattlers quickly answered with a touchdown of their own to make it a 7-6 game. The Eagles offense was successful again with Cohen scoring another touchdown for a 14-6 lead.The defense came out strong led by Keldrice Legree, DeAngelo Cohen and Max Gagnon and Jayce Collier thwarting all the Rattler efforts to gain some ground. The Eagles offense exploded with consecutive touchdown scores by Hernandez and DeAngelo Cohen to bring the Eagles their first win of the day by a final score of 28-6 Next to take the field was the Mighty Mite team, ages 7-8, took the field with the Rattlers focused and determined after last week's loss against the Hornets. The Eagles offense came out strong led by quarterback Brian Dean, Fred Hankerson and Caleb Rojas. Hankerson and Rojas gained yards for the offense with Hankerson scoring the first touchdown of the day. The Rattlers quickly responded with a touchdown of their own making the score 7-6. Dean had a great day at quarterback getting the ball again to Hankerson to score another touchdown for the Eagles to bring the score 12-7. The defense led by Landon Young, Jahkaris Johnson, Caleb Reed, Solan Huter and Devin Castellanos played lights out to put a strong fight against the Rattlers but the Rattlers again found their way into the end zone making the score 13-12. The battle was on and the Eagles offense was driving down the field deep into Rattlers territory inside the red zone but the Rattlers defense denied the Eagles another score. This team had a great day of football with Hankerson rushing for 60 yards scoring two touchdowns and Rojas rushing 30 yards. Unfortunately the Eagles were dealt another upsetting loss in a tight game with a final score of 13-12. The Pee Wee team, ages 10-11, started off with the offense led by quarterback Graisin Wheelock getting the ball to Austin Smith and Eli Frazier to get the ball down the field but were foiled by the Rattlers defense. The defense led by O'Brian Yarde and Manuel Murillo who made several key tackles for the day rallied together with teammates Austin Smith, Jacob Bennett and Wheelock to hold back the Rattlers. In the second half the Rattlers took a 7-0 lead. The Eagles offense dug in deep and gained momentum as they moved down the field deep into Rattlers territory with Wheelock handing the ball off to Frazier for a 10-yard touchdown but fell short of scoring the extra point making the score 7-6. The rest of the game was a defensive battle that resulted in a tough loss for the Eagles, 7-6. Following the Pee Wee game, the Junior Varsity team, ages 12-13, got off to a great start with the Eagles offense driving down the field led by quarterback Norris "Fish" Taylor, Jr. gaining key yards and completing a pass to Kasey Hawthorne who ran 45 yards for the first touchdown of the day to take an early lead 6-0. The Eagles offense rallied together with quarterback Deshawn Velez handing off the ball to Geo Gonzalez gaining key yards and attempting to complete passes to Michael Sanchez and Austin Whiddon deep in the Rattlers territory but fell just short of scoring. On the Rattlers next offensive drive, Joel Murillo intercepted the ball on the Eagles 20-yard line and ran it in for his first touchdown ever and Velez earning the extra point. With the final quarter winding down, Marquis Hawthorne intercepted the ball and ran it back for a 30-yard touchdown to wrap up the game giving the Eagles another win for the day with a final score of 31-0. The Varsity Eagles team, ages 13-14, led by quarterback Christian Rivera along with running backs Rafael Smith and Tremaine Hawthorne had some good runs gaining key yards were met by a strong defensive stance by the Rattlers. The defense led by Nate Smith, Rodrigo Nolan and Anthony Healy put up a strong stance with key tackles by Smith and Nolan to thwart the Rattlers progress. In the second half, the Rattlers offensive drive was productive as they made it to the red zone for the first score of the day taking the lead 6-0. Going into the fourth quarter and still a 6-0 game, the Rattlers gained momentum and scored a touchdown. Smith rushed for another 40 yards to get down the field but the Rattlers again stopped drive and won the game, 12-0. HYF would like to spotlight our Eagle Cheerleaders and say thank you. Our Cheerleaders never failed our players; they kept cheering our players on and boosting team spirit on the sidelines. You girls are awesome! The Highlands Eagles will be playing on Saturday at Joe Franza Stadium in Avon Park to face the Lakeland Destroyers. Games begin at 9 a.m. Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children.