I’ve been watching football for a long time.
I’ve seen and covered a lot of things, but this past Friday, I saw something that I’d never seen before.
Melbourne Central Catholic defeated Clearwater Central Catholic 69-62 in the 9th overtime of a Class 3A Regional Final Game.
Let me repeat that: Nine overtimes.
It’s almost hard to fathom.
The score line looked like a European phone number. Let me show you:
Clearwater CC 14 7 0 0 0 7 7 7 0 7 7 6 0 — 62
Melbourne CC 0 7 7 7 0 7 7 7 0 7 7 6 7 — 69
Yeah, 13 periods of play.
We obviously didn’t get the final score in the paper the next day. But as I awaited each update so I could post something online, I became more and more ensconced in what was taking place in south Melbourne.
Melbourne Central Catholic 69, Clearwater Central Catholic 62 (9 OTs)
John Janokaitis, a long-time freelancer and friend of FLORIDA TODAY, probably had no idea what he was in for when he agreed to cover this game.
He was texting me updates as I watched the clock with our print deadline approaching.
At 10:40 p.m., I knew we’d miss print deadline when his text read: “No score in 5th OT… onto 6th.”
This was the longest game I had heard of. Six overtimes. But that was nothing.
At 10:48, John texts me “MCC 56-49 7th…”
A glimmer of hope? Nope. Moments later, the game was tied and going to the 8th OT.
A few minutes later I started getting texts from FLORIDA TODAY photographer Craig Bailey, whose work can be seen on Pages 3 and 4 of this section. He was shooting photos at the Palm Bay game, which had long ended, and on his way down Babcock Street, he decided to swing by MCC to see the craziness.
My next text from John at 10:58 seemed bleak. “8th OT. MCC has ball, trails 62-56.”
Then, I didn’t hear from him for a while. I was thinking the Hustlers must have lost.
I started to leaf through Twitter to see what I could find. Then, at 11:08 I hear my phone ding. “MCC 69, CCC 62 in 9th OT.”
To my surprise, the Hustlers had seized the lead.
Just moments later, my last text from John simply said “Final.”
I know as an impartial journalist I’m not supposed to root for anyone. But I might have given a small, unnoticed fist pump when I saw that final score with our hometown team winning.
Cocoa, Viera, MCC build on HS football playoffs history
This is one of those games that I wish I could have been covering.
It made me think back to the most memorable games I’ve covered.
One had to do with Cocoa High School. I was there for all three of their state titles, but their first one in 2008 was the most memorable. Kicker Cody Bell had missed four field goals in regulation and the game went to overtime tied at zero. After Tallahassee Godby scored, Cocoa blocked the extra point and got the ball. Cocoa scored on its possession, and Bell, the goat all day, booted the extra point to give Cocoa a 7-6 victory and the state title. I love redemption, and Bell got it that day.
The other game I most remember is one I covered in Ocala early in my career. I won’t name the teams, but a powerhouse school played a small religious school the week after having their first three wins taken away for ineligible players. They wanted to make a statement, and they did. Leading 90-14, they scored a touchdown and went for 2 – and converted – with just seconds left in the game to win 98-14. It’s the highest scoring high school game that I’ve ever seen, and one of the most unnecessary things I’ve seen, too.
I have a feeling Mr. Janokaitis will remember this game for a long time to come. Same for the fans in attendance. Oh yeah, and the players. You know? The ones who made it happen.
I say kudos to you, young men. You showed perseverance. Your will never faltered. And in the end, you won. Congratulations.
Walters is the Sports Editor for FLORIDA TODAY. He can be reached at (321) 242-3681 or email@example.com