Mandarin downs Noles 28-24 in regional final
As Mandarin celebrated its 28-24 Regional championship win at the other end of the field, Seminole coach Karl Calhoun thanked each of his players, spoke to his seniors, shared hugs, tears and gave words of encouragement to all.
For the Seminoles, it’s that time no coach or player wants – the end of the season short of the ultimate goal.
“I told them to remember this feeling,” Calhoun said. “This is year one, we have a lot of special things coming. But we are going to keep this train rolling we are going to keep doing special things.”
Seminole fought to the end, getting one last shot with 17.9 second left after the defense came up big and stopped Mandarin on fourth down.
After driving to the 3-yard line to start the game the Seminoles fumbled, the Mustangs scored on the ensuing drive. Seminole’s defense stopped Mandarin’s two-point conversion attempt to give the visitor’s a 6-0 lead at the end of the first.
From there, Karson Siqueiros-Lasky would score on two quarterback keepers and Mandarin would add another touchdown as the teams went into half tied at 14.
Seminole added a Liam Allen field goal and the Mustangs a touchdown before Rodney Grant put the Noles up 24-21 with 8:18 left in the game.
On the night, Trey Clark had 23 carries for 189, Grant had 142 yards on 21 carries.
“It hurts. It’s tough. When you work so hard, you just want to get the final result,” Calhoun said. “But everybody can’t win every game, and unfortunately we were on the wrong side of it this time.”
Seminole ended the season 10-3 with losses to regional finalist Treasure Coast and Cocoa which in in the state semi-finals.
A season to remember
As one looks back on the season there were indeed special moments. Going undefeated in a district that featured four regional playoff teams.
Beating Apopka, a team that altered Seminole’s season the past two years, on homecoming and in the regional semi-finals. Down 14 to Lake Mary in the second half and coming back to win which secured the district championship. In that game who will forget offensive lineman Dallas Hudson’s heads play when he grabbed a blocked pass out of the air, rambled 13 yards to keep the Seminoles alive. There was also senior Jordyn Perkins’ pick-six against Evans that started the Noles scoring onslaught in an early 35-14 district win on the road just to name a few.
For the season, the Noles were obviously some of the best in the district, but also some of the best in the state.
Siqueiros-Lasky was the fourth ranked quarterback in the state with 2285 passing yards – he had 2510 total yards good for seventh in the state. Senior Michael Key was Siqueiros-Lasky’s biggest target as the senior hauled in 43 catches for 626 yards.
Clark’s 1090 yards on the ground leaves the senior as the sixth ranked running back in the state. First-year kicker Allen had 50 PATs. Justin Rosado was the ninth ranked kick returner in the state with nearly 29.5 yards a pop. Rosado also grabbed 36 passes for 567 yards on the year. Junior David Parks averaged nearly 33 yards a punt for the Noles.
And the defense was led upfront by Senior Preston Watson and his nine sacks, 28 solo tackles added to his 39 assists – 21 one of those were for a loss. Senior Cori Smith was huge for the Noles racking up 75 total tackles on the season.
For Calhoun and the Noles however, it was a season that many never expected. So many were pointing to the weakness in the Seminole program, the places they lacked and yet they played for the Class 4M Regional Championship – two games from the state final.
“We knew what we had on the team,” Calhoun said. “To come in year one and do this was special. We are so proud of our boys, they never quit, they never stopped playing or trying.”
From here, the Noles look ahead. With several talented players returning the future and their motto IOU (It’s only us), Calhoun said he expects the team to continue to grow and improve.
“We (have) a never quit attitude. We played a lot of games this year not fully healthy, our guys never waivered,” the first-year coach said. “That is a testament to the guys in the building, the coaches to everyone. We just want to keep building a growing.
“Now we just fix our mistakes and dive into it going into the spring.”