Skip to main content

Zephyrhills makes a loud statement

The Bulldogs dominate Cypress Creek to celebrate homecoming

ZEPHYRHILLS, FLORIDA – Two football teams came to Bulldogs Stadium at Tom Fisher Field with lengthy prepared statements to make on Friday night.

But only the Zephyrhills Bulldogs ended up speaking In a game they dominated from the very start on the way to a 53-13 victory against neighboring Wesley Chapel Cypress Creek. The Bulldogs (6-3) had a lot to say before a homecoming crowd as they clinched the Class 3A Suburban District 7 championship.

In this case, it's only appropriate to start from the very beginning. Freshman sensation Fred Adams grabbed the opening kickoff and returned iT 92 yards for a touchdown.

"Fred is a big-time player,'' Zephyrhills coach Nick Carroll said. "He can hurt you in a lot of different ways.''

Adams, who transferred in from Zephyrhills Christian Academy, made that evident as he also caught two touchdown passes later in the game from junior quarterback Brendyn Collela, who transferred from Wiregrass Ranch High School before the season. Collella added two other touchdown passes.

Adams also earned his teammates a solid meal sometime in the coming weeks.

"I told them I would cook hibachi for them if we scored on special teams and now I have to follow up on it,'' Carroll said with a laugh.

But let's not get ahead of the game before we get into how instrumental some other transfers were in the Zephyrhills victory. Take your pick of the exact moment when the game actually was over.

It might have come on the third Cypress Creek offensive play of the night when. Zephyrhills senior Maddox Rivera intercepted a pass and returned it deep into Cypress Creek territory. Rivera followed that by scoring on a 1-yard run to put the Bulldogs ahead 14-0. Soon after that, Jakobe Campbell intercepted a pass to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Rodney make it 20-0.

As if that wasn't enough, Thomas caught a touchdown pass from Collella to make it 20-0.

That was followed by a touchdown reception by Thomas from Collela to make it 26-0. And all that took place in the first quarter.

Everywhere you looked Zephyrhills had a star. In addition to Collela and Adams, sophomore DJ Pickett, who transferred from Carrollwood Day School in Tampa, already is a top Division 1 prospect and opposing teams have to account for him on every play. Cypress Creek made the mistake of losing track of Pickett late in the first half and he caught a long pass from Collela to make it a 46-10 Zephyrhills lead at halftime.

After a lengthy halftime to introduce the homecoming court and a ceremony to name the Zephyrhills softball field after long-time Zephyrhills athletic director Craig Milburn, who also coached baseball, basketball and softball, the second half went much quicker than the first. That's because the "mercy rule'', which comes into play when a team leads by 35 points or more at the half, was applied.

The entire second half was played with a running clock and a 43-yard touchdown pass to Adams in the third quarter was the only Zephyrhills score of the second half.

Although Cypress Creek entered the game with a 7-1 record, the Coyotes were silent. Before a game against Pasco earlier in the season, Cypress Creek coach Mike Johnson challenged his team to make a statement by coming away with a win that signaled a program that started in 2017 had turned the corner.

But the Coyotes lost to Pasco and Zephyrhills. Pasco and Zephyrhills have been around seemingly forever and there still is no new world order in Pasco County football. Although the opening of Cypress Creek and other new high schools in recent years has taken away some of the student population of Zephyrhills and Pasco, the old guard remains in place.