By CHUCK BALLARO
The Cape Coral Jr. Junior Midget football team pretty much had its way all season long as it tossed away opponents like a pair of old socks.
Nakia Robinson fields a punt as Cape Coral Jr.’s Isaac Washington speeds toward him during a regional playoff game against Gwen Cherry on Saturday.
On Saturday, in the Pop Warner regional playoffs, the tables were turned, and on the team's home field, no less.
It's not that the Sharks fumbled the game away or committed a lot of costly penalties. They were just beaten by a team from the Miami area in the Gwen Cheney Bulls that was better, stronger and faster.
"We knew their plays. We knew what they were going to do. They were just too big and too strong," Sharks head coach Mike Killeen said. "We had to have our 'A' game today and it just wasn't there."
Perhaps the biggest hurt was that the Sharks couldn't compete in a 28-0 loss that went to a running clock late in the first half and that the Bulls probably could have made it worse had they not taken their foot off the gas.
Gwen Cheney got moving on its first possession. After a long punt return from Nakia Robinson, he took off down the left end and scored on the Bulls' first play from scrimmage to make it 8-0 after the two-point kick from Terian Lightbourn.
Moments later, Robin-son took the handoff and completed a pass to Kiaryn Davis, who galloped into the end zone for a 30-yard scoring play. The extra point failed to make it 14-0 with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
Moments later, quarterback Arthur Mann went deep and found Maceo Mathews, who made a spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch between two Shark defenders for a 27-yard hook-up. The conversion made it 22-0 late in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Cape Jr. quarterback Maurice Flournoy went back to throw and was stripped by Theron Lee, who then took the ball 35 yards for a 28-0 lead and a running clock for the remainder of the game.
Geno Rodriguez and Isaac Washington had solid days on both sides of the ball for the Sharks (11-2), who did not surrender any points in the second half and showed they could move the ball.
Killeen didn't dwell on the negatives after the game, reminding his players they had won the Peace River Conference Division 1 championship, making them the best of the best in Southwest Florida.
"We're proud of the boys. We beat the best in our conference. We just ran into a buzz saw today," Killeen said.