CLEARWATER — The ice bath ensued for Clearwater Central Catholic coach Chris Harvey after the Marauders' 37-10 victory over Calvary Christian in Friday's Class 3A region final.
The win placed the Marauders (11-0) in their fifth state tournament since 2012 as they will host Chaminade-Madonna in next week's state semifinal.
"It's great. There are not many people that thought we would be here," Harvey said. "All we heard from everybody that wrote a story was that we weren't the same CCC team that we had been. You know what, we are better. I'll say it because we have guys that work their tails off. It has been nine months for this moment right here."
Junior quarterback Rory Hicks and sophomore running back Johnny Newton accounted for two touchdowns apiece for the Marauders.
The turning point in the game came 30 seconds before the end of the first half.
Ahead 13-10, Johnny Newton scooted in for a 3-yard score as CCC moved ahead by 10 at the break.
From that point on, the Marauders outscored Calvary Christian 17-0 in the final two quarters of play.
"Johnny (Newton) is a load. Is he a tailback? Is he a defensive lineman? Is he a fullback? I don't know, but he is a football player," Harvey said. "His brother, Jerjuan (Newton), is electric. The sky's the limit for them."
The Warriors (7-3) used their opening possession to move ahead 7-0. It came on a 9-yard touchdown pass to the back of the end zone from senior quarterback Alex Laccabue to senior wide receiver Amari Burney.
Burney sat out the second quarter with a right leg injury and played sparingly on defense in the second half. Calvary Christian also lost junior linebacker Peterson Rice to injury in the early going.
After winning its first postseason game in school history, Calvary fifth-year coach Todd Yoder was noticeably proud of his team following the final whistle.
"We knew they were a great team. We knew we were going to have our opportunities. We came out swinging and took some shots and missed a little a bit. When you get behind on a team like this it is hard to come back to beat them."
Calvary Christian welcomed the transfers of former CCC starters Burney and D'andre Ferguson. Both senior athletes caught up with their former teammates after the game.
Ultimately the Marauders were the more physical team and that was something Yoder harped on in his postgame speech.
For CCC, senior running back/cornerback Jalen Jones had a 27-yard touchdown catch and the game's only interception.
Jerjuan Newton scored a 48-yard rushing touchdown, weaving past nearly every Calvary Christian defender to tie the score at 7 in the first quarter.
The task ahead won't be easy as the Marauders now must beat last year's state runnerup, Chaminade-Madonna.
"It is going to take a lot. But it took a lot to get where we are now," Harvey said. "Your guys will show up on Monday, they'll put their hard hats on and we're going to see what happens."