Just coincidence, or bad luck?
Statistically, there can be as many as three Friday the 13ths in any given year. However, football is a fall sport, so the odds of what many consider an unlucky day affecting the popular sport are long.
Except for today.
So, what lies in store tonight? History tells us of at least a handful of games in which odd things have happened on an area high school football field on Friday the 13th. Leads as big as 19 points have fizzled away.
Sometimes, it has been good for Brevard County teams. Then there are other times.
In 2006, Cocoa Beach’s Mike Nichols was coming off an ACL injury when the 2-4 Minutemen took on small-school power Warner Christian. The Eagles went on to reach the regional finals that season, but they appeared to be in deep trouble at Cocoa Beach that night, trailing by two touchdowns in the second half.
The game turned, and Warner scored twice in the final 20 minutes. Had Friday the 13th pulled the rug out from under a Minutemen victory?
Not quite. The unknown hadn’t yet fully revealed itself, as the Eagles kicker was removed from the game prior to the extra point due to an equipment violation. When Warner Christian later got a final shot to win — a 19-yard field goal try with 10 seconds to play — Nichols blocked the attempt. He also rushed for 120 yards in the game.
“It was a low kick and he came through the middle to block it. It was just one of those lucky breaks,” Piccolo said of the 5-foot-9 player. “That was a big game for us.”
Cocoa found Friday the 13th magic three years and 10 months ago in Jacksonville. Trailing Bolles by 16 points in the third quarter, they rallied to tie the game and force OT.
A 71-yard scoring pass from Matt Younger to E.J. Johnson with five seconds remaining in regulation was the answered prayer for the Tigers. It extended their winning streak to 22 games at the time, and it eventually reached 38. The game also played a role in vaulting Cocoa to statewide and national prominence.
The Bulldogs gained 489 yards on offense in the game and appeared ready to run out the clock when the Tigers punted with 5:57 to play. Bolles ran a 15-play drive from there that left only 38 seconds. When the Bulldogs ran a fake on a 41-yard field goal attempt, Cocoa stopped them for a loss and took possession.
Bolles coach Corky Rogers called it “one of the greatest high school games I’ve witnessed.”
What will we witness tonight?
Tick tock. Tick tock.
FRIDAY THE 13TH COMEBACKS
Cocoa 44, Bolles 37 in OT
The Tigers broke Bolles’ 42-game regular season and 22-game overall winning streaks. Cocoa improved to 10-0 after rallying for a 30-14 third-quarter deficit in Jacksonville. The Tigers tied the game with five seconds left on a 71-yard pass from Matt Younger to E.J. Johnson after forcing a turnover on downs with 38 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
St. Joseph Academy 20, Holy Trinity 19
The Tigers built a 19-0 lead and had an edge of 204 yards to 35 in total offense, but St. Joseph came from behind to steal a district championship from Holy Trinity. An interception on Holy Trinity’s opening drive of the second half turned the game around.
Cocoa Beach 14, Warner Christian 13
The Minutemen led by two touchdowns at halftime after coming in 2-4 against Warner Christian. Cocoa Beach survived when it blunted the Eagles’ comeback on a blocked extra point by Mike Nichols, who was coming off a knee injury.
Astronaut 7, Cocoa 2
The Tigers tried to pull off a comeback with a fumblerooskie but just missed. Cocoa center Scott Wagner ran 41 yards but was tackled at the 4 on the late trick play. Played at McLarty Stadium, War Eagles coach Randy Hallock had punter Mark Meyers run out of the end zone in the final 14 seconds to give up the two points.
Gainesville Buchholz 24, Merritt Island 17
The Mustangs trailed 17-0 at home with just less than 15 minutes to play. Tigger Beal scored three times from there, on a 26-yard pass from Josh Padrick, on a 1-yard run and kicking a 23-yard field goal. The comeback was stopped by a Buchholz touchdown for the win with 1:19 to play.