Fourth quarter fury

Football starts season 4-3


photo by Sharon Sheridan

Wingback D.J. McCunney tries to outrun Lake Minneola defenders on the sideline. McCunney rushed 7 times for 46 yards and a touchdown in Hagerty’s 35-28 win over Lake Minneola.

Bryson Turner, Online Editor

Quarterback Sammy Cordero gazed towards the goalpost at the other end of Sam Momary Stadium. The football team faced a fourth and 28 on their own 3-yard line. They were down to Ocoee, 22-21.

To remain undefeated in district play, Cordero had to do something he has only done on 12 percent of offensive plays the entire season — throw the ball.

“We don’t throw the ball unless we need to,” wide receiver Caleb Lowe said. “When we need to, we’re expected to execute.”

Starting with the fourth down, Cordero connected twice with Lowe and once with fellow wide receiver Ian Watts as the offense drove 90 yards to the 7-yard line, where kicker Landon Spangenberg booted a game winning 24-yard field goal to lift the team over Ocoee, 24-22, on Sept. 28.

After a Friday’s loss against East Ridge, the team is now 3-1 the district and 4-3 overall.

While Cordero had to use his arm in the Ocoee game, his main contribution has been with his legs. He leads the team in rushing yards, with 715, and touchdowns, with 10. By not scoring in against East Ridge, Cordero capped off eight consecutive games in which he scored a touchdown, a streak dating back to last season’s loss against Timber Creek.

The team has a rematch with Timber Creek on Nov. 2.

“I’ve grown as a player. I’ve put in the work and I’m confident in myself,” Cordero said. “I want to go out there and show [Timber Creek] what I have this season and get a win this time.”

Third in rushing yards is tailback Jordan Gilbert, who has thrived during this latest stretch, getting 331 of his 346 total yards during the last four games. Prior to that, he was still working his way back from a torn ACL in his left knee he sustained the previous season. It was not until the Lake Minneola game, when he began returning to pre-injury form.

“That’s when I knew we’re back in business,” Gilbert said. “I was happy I wasn’t on the sideline being injured and not being able to do anything.”

One thing prevalent on both sides of the ball is the opportunity for new starters to emerge, and they have been taking advantage. Gilbert’s slow recovery made way for sophomore Ethan Lopez and freshman Syncere Sampson, who have combined for 360 yards and two touchdowns. On the defensive side, injuries to linebackers Tyler Kielma, Tommy Halverson, and Garett LaGrange have led to the rise of defensive back Colby Fialkoff, whose fumble recovery and interception, both in the fourth quarter, proved instrumental in the team’s 35-28 win over Lake Minneola.

Fourth quarter heroics have also become a regular for the team. A chaotic final quarter against West Port included two 50-yard runs, two touchdowns by Cordero within 3:41 of each other and an interception by defensive lineman Clay Caldwell.

“We play better under pressure,” linebacker Wyatt Wilson said. “We make things happen.”

Through the changes that have occurred this season, Ziglar maintains his traditional coaching philosophy.

“You don’t try to scheme, you don’t try to outsmart people,” Ziglar said. “You let the athletes you have do their job.”

After a bye week, the team will play at Lake Howell in the Pink’d game on Oct. 19.


Sammy Cordero 18/39 410 1 3 Sammy Cordero 104 715 10
D.J. McCunney 48 357 5
RECEIVING Jordan Gilbert 50 346 5
Caleb Lowe 9 182 0 Trenton Redding 6 51 0
Gabe Boyle 4 151 1 Syncere Sampson 8 32 2
TOTALS 13 333 1 TOTALS 277 1,847 22