AVON PARK - The Avon Park Red Devils faced their toughest competition of the year on Saturday as they hosted the Sarasota Seminoles in youth football at Memorial Stadium.
After four tough battles, a driving rain storm and a game that was nearly called by the officials, Avon Park would fall short in three of the four hard-hitting games.
The first game featured the Flag teams. Avon Park came into the game 6-0 and Sarasota sported an impressive 5-1 record.
EJ Williams scored one touchdown for the Red Devils and Martice Spears added two more as Avon Park remained undefeated for the season, beating the Seminoles 19-6 and improving their record to 7-0.
The Mitey Mites played the second game of the day. Avon Park came into the game 5-1 to face the unbeaten Seminoles at 6-0. Sarasota held an 8-0 halftime lead.
Avon Park rallied in the fourth quarter as Kerney Travis got the Red Devils on the board on a 3-yard run with 5:43 left in the game. The pass attempt for the 2-point conversion failed and Sarasota held on to a slim lead at 8-6.
Sarasota got the ball back when they covered up an onside kick attempt by Avon Park and then moved to a first-and-goal situation at the Red Devil 9-yard line.
With time running out, Avon Park's defense held firm to force a turnover on downs.
Two plays later, the Seminole defense came up large with a safety after tackling the Avon Park ball carrier in the end zone with less than a minute left in the game for a 10-6 lead.
The Seminoles got the ball back and ran out the clock for the 10-6 win.
The loss dropped the Red Devils to 5-2 for the season and Sarasota kept their perfect season intact at 7-0.
The Pee Wee showcased two unbeaten teams as both Avon Park and Sarasota donned 6-0 records.
The Red Devils came out fast and scored midway through the first quarter on a pass from Shamar Hawthorne to Emmitt Beck for 11 yards. They converted the 2-point kick to take an 8-0 lead.
Then turmoil occurred when two players got into a scuffle. That was broken up easily enough, but one person kept coming out on the field from the Sarasota sideline and the officials called the game. After a lengthy delay and cooler heads prevailed, the game was resumed, but the atmosphere was gone.
Sarasota tied the game with 7:30 left in the third quarter on a 50-yard run by Davion Lee. They made the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 8.
The light sprinkle had become a steady rain by this point as the two teams battled to an 8-8 tie at the end of regulation.
In the overtime, Avon Park failed to score on its first possession. Sarasota scored on a 20-yard run by Lee to give the Seminoles a 14-8 overtime win. The loss dropped Avon Park to 6-1 for the season and Sarasota improved to 7-0.
The final game of the day also featured two teams with unblemished records at 6-0.
With the beginning of the game being played in a driving rain storm, both teams struggled to hold on to the ball. Midway through the second quarter, Avon Park had the ball inside the Seminole 10-yard line.
A progression of three plays resulted in three fumble turnovers.
Avon Park fumbled, Sarasota fumbled, then Avon Park fumbled again, all inside the Sarasota 10-yard line. The Seminoles broke the streak with a pass to the 15.
They took the lead as Craig Lee Jr. connected with the speedy Brian Battie, who made a spin move toward the right sideline after the catch and completed the 85-yard touchdown play as he scampered down the sideline. With the kick for the 2-point conversion, Sarasota held an 8-0 lead until the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Avon Park made a quarterback change as Johnny Brown came in for Logan Page. Brown would connect with Rickey Lovette for a 12-yard scoring strike that brought the Red Devils to within two points. They missed the kick and trailed the Seminoles 8-6 with 3:59 left in the game.
Though they got the ball back, Avon Park was unable to score as they fell short to Sarasota, 8-6. With the loss they dropped to 6-1 on the season and Sarasota remained perfect at 7-0.
In other youth football, results were as follows: Flag: Lake Placid 41 Lee County 25, Sebring 34 Heartland Hurricanes 0. Mitey Mites; Lee County 13 Lake Placid 0, Sebring 40 Heartland Hurricanes 0. Pee Wee; Lake Placid 48 Lee County 0, Sebring 34 Heartland Hurricanes 0. Junior;
Lake Placid 38 Lee County 6, Sebring 42 Heartland Hurricanes 15.
The Red Devils travel to Davenport to face the Wildcats today. Sebring travels to Lake Placid.