By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE/PUNTA GORDA — It appears Port Charlotte’s loss Friday night to Charlotte will impact the Pirates for than just the rivalry game.
Running back Ernest Harvey, who went down with an injury on the Pirates’ first offensive series, will miss the remainder of the season with a broken ankle, coach Jordan Ingman said Tuesday.
“Seventy-five percent of our call sheet was taken away when Ernest was out of the game,” Ingman said of his team’s gameplan in the 21-17 loss against the Tarpons for the district championship.
“It was a huge loss. But I have to do a better job of helping out guys get over that situation.”
On the flip side, Charlotte trailed 17-0 at one point in the game, and despite the score, the Tarpons never panicked. There wasn’t a string of personal foul penalties called, nobody quit and teammates weren’t arguing.
Charlotte coach Binky Waldrop knows exactly what attributed to his team’s confidence.
“Experience,” Waldrop said. “When you get down 17-0, you hope your kids will mentally stay in it. We didn’t have anybody panic. We got a stop, drove down and scored.
“We’re a team with 19 seniors, and all the seniors we have are key players for us. When you have that kind of leadership, and you’re in a game like that, you shouldn’t panic.”
The way the game had transpired up to the midway point of the second quarter, it looked as Port Charlotte could hold onto a two-score lead at halftime, it would win,. However, if Charlotte could cut the lead in half, it could manage to rally in the second half.
That’s exactly what happened, and the difference was a Pirates fumble with less than a minute left in the second quarter. When asked the one play he wishes his team could have back, Ingman chose that play. And, he also took the blame for it.
“I should’ve had our guys under center instead of trying to score before half,” he said.
Waldrop recognized the importance of that momentum swing, and what it did for his team’s confidence.
“We got beat like a drum for 22 minutes, and then it’s essentially a tie game,” Waldrop said. “We’ve been on the other side of that before, but it gave us a little bit of momentum.”
Although the Charlotte-Port Charlotte rivalry always is an important matchup each year, it’s not the end of the season for either team win or lose.
Both teams are headed for the playoffs, and now have one final tuneup week before the first-round of regionals, and then possibly a rematch.
Charlotte will entertain Boca Ciega on Nov. 11, while Port Charlotte visits Clearwater. Both games are at 7:30 p.m. The winners will meet on Nov. 18.
Despite it being such a heated rivalry, what transpired after the game ended was a great reminder that all involved are just people at the end of the day.
Port Charlotte requested the teams pray together after the final whistle, something that stood out to Waldrop after all the dust settled.
“After the game, them asking us to pray with them, that was cool,” Waldrop said. “These kids had just battled the way they did for 48 minutes, and then they sat together and prayed. I thought that was real classy. I was impressed. Port Charlotte really ran a great program for that game the other night.”
Waldrop recognized that in the 36-game history of this rivalry, Friday night’s was one of the best.
“I thought it was a great football game,” Waldrop said. “Both teams poured their guts out on the field that night. It’s a shame somebody had to lose, but somebody does. People should be proud of what they got to watch the other night.”