FOOTBALL: Wiregrass Ranch falls to Berkeley Prep

BUCCANEERS 36 BULLS 28

TAMPA — Coming off a season in which Wiregrass Ranch’s football team wasn’t able to finish its schedule due to COVID-19 issues, the Bulls entered Thursday night’s spring matchup against Berkeley Prep with a lot of motivation.

The drive to show people around the area the Bulls are for real started off with a bang, but ended with a letdown. The Buccaneers received solid performances from running backs Xavier Townsend and Travis Bates en route to a 36-28 spring victory.

“Anytime you’re able to run the ball well and the offensive line can get a push, you end up doing some good things,” Berkeley Prep head coach Dominick Ciao said. “I was proud at the way we were able to come back and compete. (Wiregrass Ranch) has a big line and a bunch of playmakers.”

Those playmakers were on full display throughout the evening for the Bulls, as quarterback Rocco Becht had himself a stellar first half. The Iowa State commitment threw four touchdown passes, two of which going to junior wide receiver Malachi McLaughlin and other two to running back Kenny Walker and wideout Abram Breer.

The troubles were more on the defensive side of the football for the Bulls, as they had difficulties bringing down Townsend and Bates at the point of attack. After heading into halftime trailing 28-16, Berkeley Prep scored 20 unanswered points in the second half.

Bates punched in the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter on a 2-yard run, but the back breaker ended up being a 40-yard scamper by junior tight end Tre Reader. Wiregrass Ranch had one last chance to tie the game in the final minute, but on fourth and goal Becht’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

OTHER PASCO COUNTY SCORES:

Land O’ Lakes 21, Cypress Creek 21

River Ridge 21, Hudson 20

Gulf 16, Mount Dora 0; Gulf 12, Central 0 (Jamboree)

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at andyvillamarzo@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.