Sure, statistics can be used to skew the truth, but there are times when they paint a picture of reality.
A solid example of that? Last year, Heritage High’s football team scored 131 points through 10 games. This year, through four games, the Panthers have scored 166 points while giving up just 17.
That, in turn, has helped lead to another statistic: 4 and 0. Heritage is one of four 4-0 teams in Brevard as today’s games approach.
“We definitely are a lot better than we were last year,” Panthers coach Ajay Ulmer said Thursday. “That was a good football team we beat (last week, 28-10 at Port St. Lucie).”
In fact, that win brought even more numbers into the overall picture. A year ago, Port St. Lucie came to Palm Bay and left with a 35-3 win. Last week, the Panthers turned that 32-point loss into an 18-point win, on the other team’s field.
“I really feel we are that much better,” Ulmer said. “Our defense played lights out, and we were able to put points on the board.”
The scoring ability was a bit unclear before the season started, and what has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for Heritage fans has covered up what might be the bigger story as the team marches toward Class 6A, District 13 play next week: the defense has two shutouts and has allowed an average of just 4.2 points a week.
Cocoa Beach came into the season with the opposite scenario. The Minutemen offense had high expectations under senior quarterback David Dessent and a bevy of skilled targets, while the defense was the unknown.
Coach Tony Piccalo likes what he sees. The Minutemen held their first two opponents to single digits, but it was a 31-21 win at Fernandina Beach that gave him perhaps his best indication of the season.
“That was by far the most physical team we’ve played,” he said. “In our district, we’ve got some big, physical teams and we were able to stand toe-to-toe with them.”
Cocoa Beach, 4-0 for the first time, withstood a third quarter in which it ran just three offensive plays and then opened the fourth quarter with a TD drive.
Holy Trinity has been 4-0 before, but not under second-year coach Mark Ainsley, and perhaps not with a team as young as it is now.
“I’m pleased with the effort, but I still don’t think we’ve put together a complete game,” he said.
His team has done two things not necessarily typical of young squads, avoiding mistakes and taking advantage of those by its opponents. The Tigers have played particularly well on special teams, blocking two punts and returning a punt for a touchdown.
The fourth unbeaten at 4-0, Merritt Island, was there in 2009 and faced the same challenge it faces tonight: beating Cocoa to win a fifth in a row. The Tigers prevented it last time, but the Mustangs are the last Brevard County team to beat the recent three-time state champions.
Since a 15-14 loss at Merritt Island on Oct. 10, 2008, the Tigers have won 22 in a row against local teams.