Tampa Catholic senior wide receiver Darius Corbett says Berkeley Prep is coming for them. On the other side, Berkeley Prep senior running back Gordon Stetson says this about revenge and that his group will get it done this time.
The Crusaders (6-3) have won five of the last six matchups against Class 3A-District 4 rival Berkeley Prep. That includes a 25-10 home win over the Buccaneers on Sept. 30.
Berkeley Prep (8-2) finished the regular season on a five-game winning streak which included wins over Lakeland Christian and Lake Highland Prep. The Bucs are averaging 27.4 points on offense and allowing 17.4 points defensively.
Tampa Catholic won five of its last six games to end the season highlighted by a comeback win over 3A powerhouse Clearwater Central Catholic. The Crusaders are averaging 27.6 points per game while allowing 25.3. Those numbers are a bit skewed with the early season losses to Bergen Catholic (NJ) and Fort Pierce Central.
To get here, Tampa Catholic beat Trinity Catholic 25-10 last week while Berkeley Prep went to Orlando First Academy and won 28-14.
Crusaders star running back Devan Barrett has already announced his commitment to Auburn. He shredded Berkeley Prep for 334 yards and three scores earlier this season. Along with Barrett, TC has impressive senior quarterback Austin Sessums and Corbett.
Corbett has this mindset about Friday’s crucial battle.
“Well we definitely don’t want to go out there thinking we already have this win just because we beat them before,” he said. “We just fixed a few wrinkles in preparation.”
This game is going to be physical. For the Bucs, Stetson says being physical is a part of their game.
“When we have played our game this year, no one could stop us,” he said
Senior defensive end Sandro Maxwell laid out the strategy for his group.
“They [Tampa Catholic] have a high-powered offense with a lot of athletes,” he said. “We have to focus and really lock in, in order to stop them.”
The closeness of Berkeley Prep is something that is noticeable every time I see them play. Most of the team has been playing with one another for three or four years.
Maxwell says the motto for this team is link up, but Stetson expanded a bit more on the goals for this season.
“The motto this year has been revenge and wake up all the people sleeping on us,” Stetson said. “This year we got revenge on Lakeland Christian who knocked us out of the playoff race last year in the double overtime loss and beating First Academy who ended our season my sophomore year.
“Also, we have been doubted all year and that only has motivated us more. We have had our best record in years at Berkeley and have ended three teams perfect seasons.”
Stetson wants his group to win a state title, not only for him and his teammates but just to make sure everyone statewide knows who Berkeley Prep is.
Maxwell says it is all about chasing perfection and if everyone on the team does their job, then they’ll come out on top.
For Tampa Catholic, this team has really come on as of late after a sluggish start. Corbett says it would mean everything to his team if they were able to capture a state title this season.
These two teams have the utmost respect for each other, but they don’t care for one another once the clock starts. The Crusaders will try to establish the ground game with Barrett much like earlier this season. Sessums will have to control the clock behind his solid offensive line.
For Berkeley Prep, Stetson is always determined and he’ll be that much more with the chip on his shoulder in a redemption game. Senior quarterback Davis Koetter must take what the defense gives him. Maxwell and senior defensive back Zack Mayes (a team-high four interceptions) are going to need to have their biggest games yet.
Photo credit: Tampa Bay Times
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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