With a number of big plays to their credit recently, the Largo High School football team has been able to dig out of an 0-2 deficit and reel off three consecutive victories.
A tandem of Lions seniors — quarterback/defensive back Chris Thomas and tailback/linebacker Dimonte Cosbert — are largely responsible for most of the game-changing plays the team has enjoyed.
“It’s part of execution and practice,” Cosbert said. “In practice we make sure we get the work done and make sure practice is good. That way we can come out in games, go after our opponents, read our keys on defense and we make plays.”
Two weeks ago against Forestville, Thomas ended a 14-14 tie in the fourth quarter with a 51-yard touchdown strike to receiver Malik Scott.
With the Lions leading the Knights 26-20 late in the fourth quarter, Cosbert put the exclamation point on the victory with a 44-yard touchdown run.
“Everyone plays an individual part with the team,” Thomas said. “When someone does something they’re supposed to do and do it 100 percent, it opens up things for a lot of people.
For the first time in Largo coach David Fant’s four seasons as coach, the Lions are 3-2 and above .500 at the regular season’s halfway point.
Fant said he and his coaching staff actually cultivate the players ability to have a game-breaking play in a game.
“You have to do it in practice,” Fant said. “In practice, I always put them in situations where big plays can happen. We’ll do a four-minute drill in practice and on every play I tell them ‘you must score.’ If I don’t see them running hard, I blow the whistle which means they have another play. If I see them running hard, they know they are going to score. That translates in the game.”
Just last weekend against Friendly, the big plays came on offense, but also on defense and special teams. The Lions got on the board when Thomas intercepted a pass by Patriots’ quarterback Thomas Corbett II and returned it for a score in what the Lions’ coaching staff believes was somewhere in the 40-yard range.
Minutes later, with the Patriots driving deep in the Lions territory near the 20-yard line, Cosbert recovered a fumble and returned it all of the way for another score.
Perhaps the play that broke the game open was a 50-yard punt return to the Patriots 2-yard line with only 15.5 seconds. One play later, Thomas threw a touchdown strike to Lions’ receiver Andre Owens that made the score, 24-14.
Later in the third quarter, Thomas had a 36-yard run and a 39-pass play on a drive that resulted in a touchdown to give the Lions a commanding, 36-14 lead.
“When they get the ball, they’re thinking they’re going to score,” Fant said. “On defense, we’ll start out practice with some high octane drill whether it’s a pursuit drill, an interception drill or a fumble recovery, everything we do we have to score. I think that is something they may not realize is actually translating into the game.”