Caldwell’s takeaways are “Cherry” on top in East Bay win

East Bay head coach Mike Gottman lifts the Cherry Cup after the Indians claimed the rivalry hardware for the 12th-straight season.

Correction: This story has been corrected from an earlier edition, which incorrectly stated that the win marked 14-straight for East Bay, when it has only been 12-straight, with the two teams not playing each other in 2019, and Riverview last winning 28-20 in 2009. The caption under the photo above has also been corrected. – J. Guthrie, editor

By Rick Cantor
Staff writer

GIBSONTON – East Bay head coach Mike Gottman knows the team who wins the turnover battle usually wins the game.

“Turnovers to me are the difference between winning and losing,” said Gottman, now in his second year at the helm of the Indians. “If you don’t, some other freak things really have to happen.”

Fortunately for Gottman, he had DeAnthony Caldwell patrolling his secondary.

Caldwell, 6-foot sophomore picked off a pair of passes in the second quarter, returning one for a touchdown as the Cherry Cup stayed in Gibsonton for the 13th-consecutive year in a hard fought and sometimes chippy 21-19 win over rival Riverview.

The night started out with a bang, literally and figuratively as the sound of a popped transformer left the stadium dark for about 30 minutes.

East Bay senior QB Nathan Carter

When the game began, it was the Indians’ offense making noise, as senior signal caller Nathan Carter (15 carries, 91 yards) called his own number on a 14-yard touchdown run to give East Bay the early lead.

A big kickoff returns by Harrison Hensley set Riverview up on the 15-yard line, but as was the story throughout the game, the East Bay (3-0) defense held tight, and a missed field goal was the first of several missed opportunities for the Sharks.

Riverview (3-1) eventually broke through when junior quarterback Aaron Turner answered his East Bay counterpart with a 30-yard touchdown run of his own in the second quarter. A missed extra point preserved the Indians lead.

Later in the quarter, it was Caldwell who grabbed the errant pass from Turner and headed for paydirt.

Indians sophomore DB Deanthony Caldwell.

“We were in cover-six, and I was over the top, and I saw him throwing down to the out route,” said Caldwell. “I saw it get tipped and I came under it. I saw one defender and then green grass. I had to get the points up there.”

It may have looked like instant replay to those in the stands as Caldwell intercepted a similar pass on a similar area of the field, thwarting a drive and keeping the Sharks down by eight going into the half.

East Bay would start the second half much like the did the first, with an opening drive touchdown. This one courtesy of sophomore Armando Becerrill on a 24-yard sweep.

While the score could have killed the spirit of many teams, the Sharks under first year coach Tony Rodriguez showed no quit.

Riverview marched down the field with sophomores Andrew Lee and Elijah Lespinasse and finished on a six-yard score by junior Dontavious Shoats. Down by nine, the Sharks opted to go for a two-point conversion that failed and would ultimately prove to be the difference in the contest.

In the fourth quarter, Carter rolled an ankle and left the game for a series but returned, as would be expected from a senior leader. He would methodically run the offense in tandem with junior bruiser Jaelin Sneed (14 carries, 60 yards). The Indians took just enough time off the clock that even with a late score by Harrison Hensley, the Sharks ran out of time.

“I told Nathan as he goes, the team goes,” said Gottman. “I told him he is in command, and to just move the chains, move the chains, move the chains.”

For Carter, in a heated game with several personal fouls and a lot of trash talking, it was important to heed his coaches’ words and keep his team’s emotions in check.

“I give them their props. They came out and played a great game,” said Carter. “I told my team to keep their emotions down, and not get too high. When it gets hot, you start to see a lot of penalties.”

The Sharks will rest next week and look to get back on track in two weeks when they host Newsome; while the Indians look to go 4-0 when they travel into Tampa to face Jefferson next week.

Friday Night’s Results

Sumner 31, Gaither 28

Spoto 14, King 0

Tampa Bay Tech 38, Bloomingdale 0

Steinbrenner 52, Lennard 7

Blake 14, Middleton 6

Durant 21, Plant City 13

Saturday’s Game Finals
Hillsborough 14, Jefferson 0

Tampa Catholic 28, CLWTR American Collegiate Academy 12

Plant 68, Robinson 29

St. Pete Northside Christian 15, Cambridge Christian 14

Seffner Christian 40, Winter Haven Ambassador Chr 8

Monday’s Scheduled Games
Strawberry Crest (3-0) at Leto (2-1), PPD, Mon 7p

Alonso (3-0) at Sickles (0-3), PPD, Mon 7p

Freedom (0-3) at Brandon (0-3), PPD, Mon 7p