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Luke Yoder powers PHU past Countryside

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By BRIAN MCLAUGHLIN

PALM HARBOR — It has been a while since Palm Harbor University’s football program had a night quite like Thursday’s 27-10 home win over Countryside.

Not only was this the first time the Hurricanes knocked off their nemesis on the field since 2008 but it also marked the first time PHU has started 3-1 since 2016.

The Hurricanes did it thanks to a running back with NFL pedigree who kept racking up yards, so much that he nearly set a school record.

Junior running back Luke Yoder, the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Todd Yoder, rushed 311, along with two touchdowns.

The younger Yoder was just 12 yards shy of surpassing the single-game school record of 322 set by former PHU standout James Brown against Ridgewood in 1999.

It was the third straight game Yoder rushed for 200 or more yards. His big numbers on the ground helped the Hurricanes finish an undefeated September by outscoring opponents 84-24. PHU hosts rival East Lake on Oct. 1.

Photo courtesy of Monika Malyszko

“I’m very proud of how hard we played tonight,” Hurricanes coach Mike Mullaney said. “There were a lot of self-inflicted mistakes that we made that hurt us tonight, and we need to clean up those mistakes for next week.”

Mullaney was talking about the 104 yards of penalties and two turnovers in enemy territory that made the game seem closer than it really was. But while he was frustrated with being short of having a perfect night, he was happy with the defensive effort, the execution up front from the offensive line – and the array of players who had stellar nights.

Case in point: While Yoder would steal the show in any 60-second recap of this game, he was hardly the lone guy who had his best night of the year. Defensive stud and sophomore linebacker Gunner Fodor registered four tackles for loss and eight tackles overall, while his co-captain in the linebacking corps – senior Ian Seibert – posted eight tackles and four tackles for loss, as well as a key tipped pass. 

Fodor and Seibert also combined to rush for 55 yards and two touchdowns to give the ground game 366 yards and four touchdowns on the night.

Senior defensive end Erik Malyszko – who earlier in the year made key first-down conversions as a fullback on offense – had his best game on defense with an interception, along with a sack and another tackle for loss. He has made a name for himself by making pivotal plays at crucial points in the game.

The defense ended up holding Countryside’s top player – Jaden Griffin – to 59 total rushing yards on 11 carries. As it turns out that all came on his one breakaway touchdown run – the other 10 carries netted zero yards. Considering he came in as one of Pinellas County’s top rushing threat with nearly 400 yards and seven touchdowns – that was no small feat by the defense.

When it became obvious PHU’s defense was going suffocate Countryside’s run game, they went to the air. The Hurricanes recorded three interceptions and allowed just 151 yards passing, much of it coming late in the fourth when the Cougars were down by 17. Besides Malyszko, senior Alex Lynch, and freshman Will Seibert each picked off a pass. Mekhi Butler, a senior defensive back, also was solid in pass defense.

This was, perhaps, the biggest win in school history over Countryside considering the previous win on the field (the 2012 victory came via forfeit) was by seven points. PHU has played varsity football since 1997.

Now comes an even bigger rival.

The Hurricanes host East Lake this week in a game that will have plenty at stake. After all, it is the Class 8A, District 11 opener for both teams.

TEAMS1ST Q2ND 3RD 4TH FINAL
Countryside037010
Palm Harbor776727
QTEAMPLAYCONV.TIME MARKDRIVE
1stPHYoder 1 run(Lynch kick)2:44 left in 1st12 plays, 60 yards
2nd COUNGregory 42 FG10:25 left in 2nd 12 plays, 55 yards
2ndPHYoder 1 run(Lynch kick)0:28 left in 2nd12 plays, 43 yards
3rdCOUNJ. Griffen 59 run(Gregory kick)11:46 left in 3rd1 play, 59 yards
3rdPHFodor 14 run(kick blocked)0:56 left in 3rd12 plays, 80 yards
4thPHI.Seibert 3 run(Lynch kick)1:14 left in 4th8 plays, 15 yards
COUNTRYSIDEPALM HARBOR
1st downs824
Att-Rush17-55, 1 TD58-366, 4 TDs
Pass-C-A-I10-23, 3 INT, 151 yds2-5, 0 INT, 11 yds
Punt4 punts, 37 avg2 punts, 46 avg
Penalties13-86 yds11-104 yds
Fumb-Loss0-03-2
Time of Poss.27:0632:54

Football

Friday night football forecast

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Must-see matchups

Northeast (6-0) at Boca Ciega (4-2), 7

A win would all but clinch the Class 6A, District 11 title for the Vikings. That could be tough considering Northeast is dealing with some injuries. 

Putnam’s prediction: Boca Ciega 21-20

Steinbrenner (3-4) at East Lake (2-5), 7

The winner becomes the overwhelming favorite to take the Class 8A, District 11 title. 

Putnam’s prediction: Steinbrenner 17-13

Armwood (4-2) at Bloomingdale (3-3), 7:30

The Hawks won both meetings in 2019. The Bulls won both meetings last season. The stakes are not as high this time around with neither team in the same district but still a riveting rivalry. 

Putnam’s prediction: Armwood 27-21

Nature Coast (4-2) at Hudson (5-1), 7:30

The Sharks already have a loss in Class 5A, District 9 play and cannot afford another if they want to stay within striking distance of the Cobras and Zephyrhills at the top of the standings. 

Putnam’s prediction: Nature Coast 24-21

Largo (2-4) at Mitchell (6-1), 7:30

This is a must-win for the Packers to have any shot at the Class 7A, District 9 title.

Putnam’s prediction: Mitchell 20-14

Tampa Bay Tech (6-0) at Wiregrass Ranch (4-1), 7:30

A Titans win would set up a showdown with Wharton next week to decide the Class 7A, District 10 title. This matchups features two differing styles on offense with Tampa Bay Tech’s ground attack going up against the Bulls’ aerial assault.  

Putnam’s prediction: Tampa Bay Tech 28-21

Plant City (4-2) at Durant (6-1), 7:30

The host Cougars already have a loss in Class 8A, District 10 and cannot afford another one to keep their title hopes alive. 

Putnam’s prediction: Durant 17-16

Tampa Catholic (3-2) at Land O’ Lakes (6-0), 7:30

This is the Gators’ toughest test so far this season, one that could end up derailing their perfect regular season. 

Putnam’s prediction: Tampa Catholic 34-28

East Bay (5-1) at Palmetto (2-3), 7:30

A pivotal Class 7A, District 11 matchup the visiting Indians need to keep their district title hopes alive. 

Putnam’s prediction: Palmetto 14-13 

Braden River (5-0) at Clearwater Central Catholic (4-2), 7:30

The tough schedule continues for the Marauders who face the undefeated the Pirates. 

Putnam’s prediction: Clearwater Central Catholic 21-16

The remaining schedule

Bishop McLaughlin at Oasis, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Bishop McLaughlin 21-19

Cambridge Christian at Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 38-20

Berkeley Prep at Lakeland Victory Christian, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Berkeley Prep 34-7

Indian Rocks Christian at Sarasota Out-of-Door, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Indian Rocks Christian 21-14

Alonso at Palm Harbor University, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Palm Harbor University 16-14

Keswick Christian at Northside Christian, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Northside Christian 37-31

St. Petersburg at Seminole, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Seminole 28-7

Academy at the Lakes at Shorecrest, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Shorecrest 35-21

Zephyrhills Christian at North Florida Educational Institute, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Zephyrhills Christian 42-21

Hardee at Lakewood, 7

Putnam’s prediction: Lakewood 24-6

Central at Springstead, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Springstead 35-0

Bradenton Manatee at Lennard, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Lennard 35-21

Wharton at Strawberry Crest, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Wharton 35-0

Spoto at Bradenton Southeast, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Bradenton Southeast 20-14

Brandon at Sumner, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Sumner 41-7

Zephyrhills at Cypress Creek, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Zephyrhills 27-16

King at Middleton, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: King 28-20

Blake at Hillsborough, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Hillsborough 34-6

Plant at Riverview, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Plant 35-14

Robinson at Chamberlain, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Chamberlain 27-14

Gulf, at Dunedin 7

Putnam’s prediction: Dunedin 21-12

Jesuit at Jefferson, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Jesuit 31-7

Freedom at Sunlake, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Sunlake 21-6

Sickles at Gaither, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Gaither 28-27

Pasco at Belleview, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Belleview 35-0

Fivay at River Ridge, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: River Ridge 41-14

Wesley Chapel at Weeki Wachee, 7:30

Putnam’s prediction: Wesley Chapel 28-0

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Football leaders for Tampa Bay, Week 8

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The statistical standouts on offense and defense for Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. 

Offense

Passing yards

2,130 Anthony Colandrea, Jr., Lakewood (22 TDs, 5 INTs)

1,597 Brandon Royal, So., Sickles (21 TDs, 4 INTs)

1,431 Hunter Young, Sr., Hudson (18 TDs, 2 INTs)

1,365 Aidan MacLean, Sr., Clearwater (17 TDs, 5 INTs)

1,349 Luca Stanzani, Sr., Clearwater Academy (14 TDs, 3 INTs)

1,342 Gavin Henley, Sr., Lennard (15 TDs, 6 INTs)

1,336 Parker Stirnkorb, Jr., Dunedin (16 TDs, 17 INTs)

1,315 Jacob Drackett, So., Calvary Christian (12 TDs, 7 INTs)

1,288 Murdolph Jones, Jr., Armwood (15 TDs, 7 INTs)

1,261 Kyle Horvath, So., Land O’ Lakes (18 TDs, 0 INTs)

1,251 Owen Walls, Sr., Cypress Creek (9 TDs, 5 INTs)

1,210 Trenton Hawks, Sr., River Ridge (11 TDs, 5 INTs)

1,199 Will Griffin, 8th, Northside Christian (15 TDs, 7 INTs)

1,109 Brooks Bentley, Jr., Gaither (7 TDs, 5 INTs)

1,033 Jackson Jensen, So., Carrollwood Day (9 TDs, 2 INTs)

1,029 Luke Knight, So., Jesuit (9 TDs, 3 INTs)

1,003 Jayce Nixon, Fr., Zephyrhills Christian (11 TDs, 2 INTs)

987 Rocco Becht., Sr., Wiregrass Ranch (15 TDs, 1 INT)

982 Bryson Martin, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic (7 TDs, 2 INTs)

954 Garrett Gurney, Sr., Seminole (6 TDs, 12 INTs)

947 Connor Dugan, Sr., Boca Ciega (10 TDs, 4 INTs)

900 Riley Allan, Sr., Osceola (10 TDs, 4 INTs)

859 Ty Robinson, So. Steinbrenner (6 TDs, 8 INTs)

807 Caleb Pierce, Sr., Hillsborough (5 TDs, 3 INTs)

800 Charles Coney, Jr., Bloomingdale (8 TDs, 7 INTs)

Rushing yards

1,120 Luke Yoder, Jr., Palm Harbor University (7 TDs)

1,065 Dontrevious Jackson, Sr., Zephyrhills (10 TDs)

946 Joquez Smith, Jr., Jesuit (12 TDs)

876 Christian Cromer, So., Nature Coast (13 TDs)

875 Anthony Carrie, So., Carrollwood Day (14 TDs)

850 Jaden Griffin, Sr., Countryside (12 TDs)

847 Jason Albritton, Sr., Newsome (6 TDs)

794 Travis Bates, Sr., Berkeley Prep (12 TDs)

785 Lenwood Sapp, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic ( 4 TDs)

771 Sammy Miller Jr., Jr., Gibbs (4 TDs)

723 Dontarious Shoats, So., Riverview  ( 2 TDs)

713 James Evans, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech (12 TDs)

707 Isaiah Hampton, Jr., Pinellas Park (5 TDs)

700 Jaylin Thomas, Sr., Zephyrhills (6 TDs)

665 Merton Thagne, Sr., Clearwater Academy (8 TDs)

648 AJ Blanton, Sr., Gulf (3 TDs)

587 Markese Norfleet, Jr., Northeast (8 TDs)

576 Jordan Mouzon, Jr., Calvary Christian (4 TDs)

569 Kirby Vorhees, Jr., Steinbrenner (8 TDs)

564 Jaylan Blake, Sr., Wesley Chapel (6 TDs)

559 Ti’lan McGee, So., East Lake (5 TDs)

547 Calub Connell, Jr., Durant (10 TDs)

539 Terrion Williams, Sr., Pinellas Park (4 TDs)

536 Ivan Brown, Jr., Osceola (7 TDs)

535 Jaelin Sneed, So., East Bay (9 TDs)

Receiving yards

722 Kennen Ayala, Jr., Land O’ Lakes (11 TDs)

641 Eelijah Singleton, Jr., Lennard (8 TDs)

625 CJ Lee, Sr.,Clearwater (11 TDs)

595 Dylan Djete, Sr., Clearwater Academy (10 TDs)

584 Eugene Wilson III, Jr., Gaither (4 TDs)

579 Ladamien Starks, Sr., Hudson (9 TDs)

573 CJ Lewis, So., Carrollwood Day (5 TDs)

549 Javohn Thomas, Sr., Sickles (7 TDs)

547 Nate Johnson, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic (5 TDs)

523 Jakari Williams, Sr., Sickles (6 TDs)

477 Terrell Crosby, Sr., Lakewood (4 TDs)

458 Michael Jelks, So., Dunedin (4 TDs)

449 Julius Quinones, Jr., River Ridge (9 TDs)

443 Amari Niblack, Sr., Lakewood (5 TDs)

422 Sean Cuono, Fr., St. Petersburg Catholic (3 TDs)

412 Josh Robinson, Fr., Calvary Christian (6 TDs)

405 Dontrell Clerkley, Sr., Cypress Creek (2 TDs)

397 David Pomales, Sr., Sickles (8 TDs)

388 Ha’Keem Monroe, Sr., Lennard (5 TDs)

386 David James, Sr., Clearwater (2 TDs)

379 One Williams, Sr., Northside Christian (6 TDs)

377 Jacob Ridriguez, Sr., Dunedin (5 TDs)

375 Jaydn Girard, Sr., Jesuit (3 TDs)

371 Malik Brown, So., Armwood (7 TDs)

365 Bredell Richardson, So., Carrollwood Day (6 TDs)

Defense

Tackles

97 Jordan Novomestky, Sr., Springstead

84 Colin Bernstein, Sr., Steinbrenner

82 Cortland Mitchell, Sr., Osceola

80 Jacob Reed, Jr., Durant

75 Brogan Coleman, So., Osceola

67 Sam Sternberger, Sr., Hernando

66 Garrick Ponder, Sr., Pinellas Park

65 Anthony Weaver, Sr., Keswick Christian

65 Niko Gnann, So., Riverview

65 Logan Fikar, Sr., Gaither

65 Elijah Mills, Jr., Countryside

64 Rhet Conyers, Sr., Plant City

63 Jalyn Turner, Jr., Calvary Christian

62 Caden Huffman, Sr., Newsome

61 AJ Cottrill, Sr., Jesuit

61 Malachi McCalip, Sr., Pinellas Park

60 Cole Highsmith, Jr., Plant City

60 Al’Vondre Lewis, Jr., Sumner

59 Brady Nowlan, Jr., Nature Coast

58 Adarius Hayes, So., Largo

58 Dominick Murphy, Sr., Lennard

57 Matt Hensley Jr., Jr., Wesley Chapel

57 Braylon Henry, Sr., Lennard

56 Joseph Sipp Jr., Sr., Hillsborough

56 Caleb Coburn, Jr., East Lake

Sacks

11 Zyon Vaughn-Nobles, So., Zephyrhills Christian

10 Keyon Clark, Sr., Tampa Bay Tech

10 Tyler Geary, Sr., Mitchell

9 Keon Keeley, Jr., Berkeley Prep

7.5 Elias Williams, So., Hudson

7 Booker Pickett Jr., So., Wharton

7 Isaiah Nizon, Jr., Lakewood

6 Cole Highsmith, Jr., Plant City

6 Deondre Randall, Sr., Largo

6 Isaiah Hastings, Sr., Clearwater Academy

6 William Miller, So., Steinbrenner

6 Brandon Cleveland, Sr., Carrollwood Day

6 Thomas Puhek, Jr., Carrollwood Day

6 Leo Tabakovic, Jr., Durant

5.5 Derrick Brantley, Fr., Northeast

5.5 Antonio Camon, Jr., Tampa Bay Tech

5 Clark Leonard, Sr., Clearwater Academy

5 Reginald Pry, Zephyrhills Christian 

5 Kaiden Gregorie, Jr., Dunedin

5 Garrick Ponder, Sr., Pinellas Park

5 DJ Haynes, Sr., Plant City

5 Jaheim Borden, Jr., Tampa Bay Tech

5 Curtis Roberts, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic

5 Al’Vondre Lewis, Jr., Sumner

5 Yadiel Vazquez Benitez, Sr., Springstead

5 Taveon Wheeler, Jr., Lakewood

5 Carson Burbee, Sr., Countryside

5 Travis Jandrlich, Sr., Newsome

5 John Finch, Sr., River Ridge

5 D.J. Jones, So., Riverview

5 Jack Hostetler, Sr., East Lake

5 Rashard Hartwell, So., Lakewood

5 Pahree Reed, Sr., Lakewood

Interceptions

12 Terrell Crosby, Sr., Lakewood

5 RJ Stroud, Jr., Armwood

5 David Searles, Jr., Searles

5 Amir Austin, Sr., Newsome

4 Cameron Campbell, Jr., Wharton

3 Jashon Williams, So., Jefferson

3 Angel Ortiz, Sr., Gulf

3 De’von Walton, Jr., Gibbs

3 Shane Froelich, Jr., Cambridge Christian

3 Drelin Pittman, Sr., Gaither

3 Maceo Bennett, Sr., Clearwater

3 Jordan Ortiz, Sr., Riverview

3 Jayden Cornelius, Fr., Durant

3 Eric Jackson, Sr., Pinellas Park

3 Gavin Hughes, Jr., Alonso

3 London Hall, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic

3 Amari Ray, Jr., East Lake

3 Jaden Shorter, Sr., Lakewood

3 Colin MacLean, Sr., East Lake

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FNF Campus Tour Preview: Armwood at Bloomingdale

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Armwood (4-2) at Bloomingdale (3-3), 7:30

Three things to know

Riveting rivalry

This has become a series to watch, especially the past two seasons. In 2019, Armwood won both meetings, including a region quarterfinal matchup en route to advancing to the state semifinals. Last season, it was Bloomingdale’s turn. The Bulls won a 15-14 thriller in the season opener and prevailed in the region semifinals, too, en route to making the state semifinals for the first time. There are no more district implications (The Hawks are in 7A-10, while Bloomingdale is in 7A-11). But there still is plenty at stake. Both teams are coming off losses and need a win to regain some momentum. 

Defensive dynamos

The outcome could be decided on defense. After all, both teams have playmakers on that side of the ball. Armwood defensive back RJ Stroud has picked off five passes, three more than anyone else on the team. Bloomingdale defensive end Jackson Sykes has recorded a team-high four sacks, caused two fumbles and recovered one. 

Check out the FNF Campus Tour

The Friday Night Football Campus Tour, presented by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a free, interactive event that includes games and prizes for all fans, including the opportunity to get Tampa Bay Buccaneers swag. A 15-foot-tall replica of the NFL’s Super Bowl trophy is on display at each stop.. Buccaneers cheerleaders and Captain Fear, the Bucs’ mascot, also will be in attendance.   

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