Posted: 11:25 am Friday, September 13th, 2013

Football: Glades Central finds spark on offense in loss 

By Anthony Chiang

As Glades Central players huddled around coach Roosevelt Blackmon following Thursday’s road loss to American Heritage, many of them had their heads down.

“Pick your heads up,” Blackmon yelled at them. “I saw the fight in you tonight.”

A lot of people did, as the Raiders rallied from a 21-10 deficit late in the fourth quarter to come just five yards away from winning the game. Central ended up losing to Heritage 21-16, falling to 1-2 on the season.

Glades Central quarterback Jonathan Istache tries to run away from American Heritage's defense in Thursday's 21-16 loss to the Stallions. (Photo by Allen Eyestone)

The biggest thing that impressed me about Central’s performance was its play on offense. After struggling to score in the first two games of the year, the Raiders found a passing game to go along with its steady ground game against the Stallions.

There was a difference in Central’s strategy that could have contributed to this. Unlike the first two games of the season, when quarterbacks Jonathan Istache and Giovanni Lugo split snaps, Istache played under center for the entire game against Heritage. Following the close loss, Blackmon attributed this to an ankle injury that kept Lugo out of practice during the week leading up the game.

But I would not be surprised if the Raiders stuck with Istache as their quarterback going forward. Istache provided Central’s offense with a spark that it needed after putting up just 13 points over the first two games of the year.

Istache completed only 12 of his 27 pass attempts Thursday, throwing for 130 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. But the stats didn’t tell the story, as the junior delivered some nice passes to give Central’s athletes a chance to make plays. This is really all that the Raiders need with 6-foot-3 wide receiver Jamarius Way and 6-foot-4 wide receiver Ronquavion Tarver’s ability to make catches over defenders.

This was on display Thursday, when Way made an impressive leaping 37-yard reception over a Heritage defensive back in the second quarter. Tarver also got in on the action, catching a 30-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter between multiple Stallions defenders.

However, the most impressive string of plays from Istache came on Central’s final drive of the game. Trailing by just five points with 1:25 left and no timeouts remaining, Istache nearly led the Raiders on a game-winning drive against a strong Stallions defense.

Istache connected for completion after completion, throwing it near the sidelines to stop the clock. After driving all the way to Heritage’s 5-yard line, Central had time for one last play. But Istache’s pass was tipped and intercepted as time ran out on the Raiders’ chances of winning the game.

Still, Blackmon was pleased with what he saw. When the coach was asked if there were any positives to take from this game, he smiled and nodded his head.

Blackmon definitely found some positive things to take from Central’s second loss of the season.

“I saw the fight in my kids,” he said. “I’m proud of each and every one of them.”

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