Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cocoa Beach HS Minutemen Retain Surfboard

BY BRIAN McCALLUM • FLORIDA TODAY • November 8, 2008

The (Cocoa Beach High School) Minutemen (football team) were playing their final district game of the season with a chance to finish third out of six teams, a notch above perennial playoff presence Astronaut. They were going for a fifth road win in five tries, a feat unmatched in the 44 years of the school. And it was the game with district rival Satellite for the surfboard that represents beach dominance in Brevard County.

Maybe it shouldn't have been that close against a winless team, but Cocoa Beach (6-3, 3-2) was happy to pass the surfboard from player to player after the game in celebration of a 13-0 victory.

Satellite ended its season 0-10 overall and 0-5 in Class 3A, District 9.

"That's your rivalry game right there," Cocoa Beach coach Tony Piccalo said. "Our special teams, I think, were the key. We got three punts inside the 5."

But one offensive trip inside the 5 resulted in a fumble into the end zone and kept the Minutemen from building on a 7-0 first-half lead. Beating a rival made Piccalo smile. Committing four turnovers did not.

"I was just a little disappointed," he said of his halftime mood. "We haven't been making mistakes, and we haven't been turning the ball over."

Working in Cocoa Beach's favor were five Satellite turnovers. Matt Richard, Dillon Fleming, Jamie Longville and R. J. Black all intercepted passes.

"Satellite came out really big. It was a tough game, but we got it," said Black, who also caught four passes for 61 yards. "The defense did good shutting them out."

Sean Sims rushed 21 times for 205 yards, scoring the first touchdown for the Minutemen, the one that turned out to be the game-winner.

"The offensive line blocked really well. I saw the hole and just took it," he said. "We're glad to bring the surfboard back to Cocoa Beach."

A 17-yard Satellite punt got the visitors in position for the score late in the first quarter. Satellite appeared ready to take advantage of a fumbled handoff to even the score late in the second, but Richard's interception in the end zone killed that Scorpions drive.

Richard helped put the game away with 8:21 to play. He caught a pass on his own sideline that was in danger of interception. When the defensive back missed the ball, it left Richard alone to turn it into a 30-yard touchdown catch.

"It looked like he was coming directly for it," Richard said. "He had a hand right in my face, and Christian (Provancha) put it right in there."

Cocoa Beach will try for a seventh win -- something not achieved by the Minutemen since 1991 -- next week at home against Doral Academy.

In addition to a failed onside kick to start the game, the Scorpions tried something unusual on offense. They lined up with three players split to each side and just two linemen sandwiching the center.

On the first play in the formation, quarterback Bryan Shahlamian ran for 15 yards. After that, not much offense resulted.

"We knew they were going to do some things and try to create some offense," Piccalo said. "Our defense did not break."

Contact McCallum at 242-3698 or bmccallum@floridatoday.com

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