East Bay out as seven turnovers spell playoff loss at Largo 28-12 – The Observer News

Steve Jackson

East Bay High took a physical beating last Friday in the second round of the FHSAA 3M football playoffs. The Indians fell behind early in a 28-12 loss to the Largo Packers.
Two East Bay turnovers in the first quarter helped the host Packers jump out to a 7-0 lead. Five more turnovers and a late brutal Largo hit on the ankle of Indians senior star quarterback Nathan Carter was too much for East Bay at Pinellas County High School, which ran its record to 9-2. Indians from the South Coast.
At 10-2, the destroyed East Bay went home and packed up their equipment. Largo continues to play football. The Packers are tasked with upsetting the perennial power 8-4 Jesuit Tigers in the regional final at home in Tampa this Friday at 7:30 p.m. The winner will advance to the Florida High School Athletic Association state football semifinals on Dec. 2. The state champion in this 3M division will play Dec. 15-17 in Ft. Lauderdale.
“The Packers are a very physical team,” East Bay’s second-year head coach Mike Gottman, 58, said after Largo’s injury. Largo is ahead of us. They made more meaningful plays than us.”
Coach Gottman, whose Indians finished 8-3 in 2021 and missed the state playoffs last season after losing in the first round, was proud of his 2022 team, adding, “10-2 was a great season for us.” A look at unofficial East Bay High gridiron history reveals only two single-season records.

East Bay Indians Facebook photo
East Bay had an amazing 10-2 season under coach Mike Gottman.

Largo hit the scoreboard first on November 18. Packers quarterback Marcus McCluster dropped a Carter aerial deep in EB territory on the first stanza. Dressed in blue and gold, the Packer quarterback wasted no time. Junior Jeremy Thomas ran into the end zone from the 9-yard line. The PAT gave Largo a 7-0 lead that it never relinquished.
East Bay hung on hard after Carter’s pass. Late in the second quarter, the Indians’ KB Carter found senior receiver Aiden Duers for a 15-yard TD pass. Braxton Maenza PAT attempt blocked. The Indians would never get closer than 7-6. Largo coach Marcus Paschal, a former NFL safety, told the paper, “We wanted to know if we were going to play defense on this side of the East Bay Bridge!” said.
It was Coach Paschal’s defense that continued to play with East Bay’s offense in the second half. EB suffered another setback in the first lane of the second half. Once again, Largo QB Thomas was on the scene. He scored another point and the PAT made it 14-6. The Indians’ Carter hit Ronde Roseboro for a 9-yard TD pass, but Carter was injured on the play and was unavailable for the two-point attempt, which failed. That left East Bay trailing 14-12 after three quarters.
In the 4th quarter, Largo blocked an EB punt. Thomas scored his third TD of the game with field position, and Largo’s defense still dominated the East Bay. Largo running back Chase Green scampered 62 yards for a late score after a Largo interception by Zayvion McCluster put the icing on the cake in a 28-12 victory for Largo.
Indians manager Gottman said after the game that Carter’s ankle hurt, but he recovered quickly even though he had to leave the game. East Bay played Maenza at fullback, a position he rarely played on the season.

East Bay Indians Facebook photo
This is a team to be proud of, with incredible growth and strength. You’ve put your stamp on the history books of the East Bay.

Gottman added, “We just couldn’t get enough offense going against Largo’s defense. I never like to lose, but we had a great year. East Bay High was 10-1 when I was here in 1995 and they were 10-1 in 1972. So it was our best football season in a long time.”
Coach Gottman will lose 26 seniors, including the entire offensive line and part of the Indians’ defense. “These guys are going to remember this year for the rest of their lives,” said Gottman, who acknowledged he has a big rebuilding task ahead of the 2023 season.


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