ST. PETERSBURG ó Championship caliber teams donít cut themselves any slack.
Just ask senior quarterback Rory Hicks, a tough grader moments after visiting Clearwater Central Catholic rolled out its textbook offensive precision to subdue Northeast, 38-17.
Opining on an attack that cruised for 421 total yards even without junior running back Johnny Newton (in a walking boot due to a left ankle injury), Hicks said, "I think we were a strong six (on a 10 scale). Weíve got to pick up on a few things: blocking, route running, my decision-making. Thereís a lot of room to improve, and when we do, weíre going to be pretty dangerous."
Hicks was dangerous all by himself.
Whether picking out open receivers or making accurate split-second decisions in the read option, the quarterback for CCC (5-0) was on the ball. Coming out hot by hitting on his first six passes, Hicks finished 19 of 23 for 238 yards with touchdown passes to Jerjuan Newton in the first quarter and Brett Seither in the third.
He picked his spots well in the running game, carrying five times for 82 yards including a 23-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter that started a two-quarter scoring run that turned an 11-point lead to 21 (31-10) and put the game away.
"I keep reading about a lot of quarterbacks in the area but Iíll take ours every time," said Marauders coach Chris Harvey. "He puts the ball in our outside weaponsí hands so they can make things happen, and heís probably our second or third leading rusher."
Freshman fullback Melvin Jordan also found the end zone for CCC on a one-yard off-tackle run in the second quarter while sophomore Makkah Jordan took a third-quarter jet sweep 15 yards for a touchdown and junior Sebastian Przytula (5-for-5 on PATs) kicked a 27-yard field goal.
Opening the season against a stacked Pinellas Park squad then going back-to-back against powerful district foe Clearwater and CCC, Northeast (1-3) didnít do itself any favors schedule-wise.
But Vikings coach Jeremy Frioud was beaming after his squadís efforts Friday.
"Iím the proudest coach around. Yes, we lost to three playoff teams from last year, but we were still fighting, still playing hard at the end as the beginning. Weíve gotten better, and itís not all about winning, itís about getting back up after adversity. Thatís key, and I canít wait for next week."
The Vikings offense struggled for 196 yards, all on the ground, but struck big when a sideline-called audible sprung quarterback C.J. Richardson for an 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Northeastís special teams scored earlier as Lance Sherman hit on a first quarter 26-yard field goal while senior running back Qezzy Guyden (20 carries, 60 yards) answered a Maraudersí score with a 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter.