Football: Newsome 26, Durant 14

The Wolves are paced by a pair of 100-yard rushers in Landon White and Jason Albritton.
High school football teams around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night. Times
High school football teams around Tampa Bay were in action Friday night. Times
Published September 21

LITHIA — Like most fullbacks, Landon White seldom basks in the spotlight.

But in Newsome’s 26-14 non-district victory against Durant on Friday, he seized it.

'We like to put it in his hands in the fourth quarter," Newsome coach Christian Yockey said. "He is a senior. ... He has been in our program for four years, and he kind of turned a corner midway through his junior year. Since about Game 5 last year, he has been a stud."

With White not having a carry in the first half, the Newsome (4-1) offense struggled, producing 80 yards and three first downs, en route to a 7-7 tie.

Durant succeeded in shutting off Newsome’s outside runs while still stacking the box to take away sophomore Jason Albritton’s inside runs — something almost no one else has been able to do this season.

"We kind of know what each other is going to do; it is basically who executes it better that night that usually wins," Durant coach Mike Gottman said.

White threw a wrinkle into Durant’s defensive game plan immediately in the second half. On the second snap, he took a handoff, bounced outside and ran over two tacklers during a 14-yard gain — most coming after first contact, an aspect absent in Newsome’s first half.

"A lot of teams overplay us to our tight end and our H-back, so we can use (Landon) and his versatility to go back the other way and take advantage of maybe not the strongest defenders when a team plays its strongest guys to the strong side of the field," Yockey said. "It allows us to have that dimension that we need in a game like this that a lot of teams used to take away from us."

The scene repeated itself throughout the second half as White finished with 110 yards on 11 carries.

“He is very, very strong, and a heck of a runner: He is a load,” Gottman said. “If you don’t tackle him low and get a couple of guys on him, he is going to break tackles. He must have broken 12, 15 tackles tonight, and that is a credit to him.”

With White finally breaking down Durant on the outside, Albritton, who was held to 31 first-half yards on six carries, found enough room to finish with 129 yards on 19 carries.

With both hitting on all cylinders, the Newsome offense produced 263 yards on five second-half drives. Three ended in touchdowns: two by Albritton (3 and 9 yards) and one by Deandre Perez (1 yard).

Perez’s insurance score with 5:02 left was set up when Durant fumbled the kickoff that followed Albritton’s second touchdown, which had given the Wolves their first lead at 19-14.

Just as significantly, Newsome's offense, led by White and Albritton, stayed on the field for all but seven snaps during the first 19 minutes of the second half, wearing down Durant's defense in the process.

Durant (2-3) seemed poised to capture the rivalry game when Jaiden Gappy jumped a route in the flat and returned the interception 70 yards for a 14-7 lead at the 8:41 mark of the third quarter. The pick ended Newsome’s eight-play, 46-yard drive to start the half. But it also enabled the Newsome offense to get the ball right back and march 72 yards in 10 plays. Even though the Wolves missed the extra point, leaving Durant with a 14-13 lead, the dynamic had shifted.

In the first half, the teams traded touchdowns. Durant’s Lonel Gappy dashed 73 yards for a score with 2:56 left in the first quarter, silencing the large home crowd. Jack Arnone produced Newsome’s first score on a 20-yard second quarter run.