It feels like the fall sports season just started, but in truth, it's coming to an end.
That's in large part to the pandemic. For Sarasota teams, competitions began Sept. 4. A little over a month later, things are winding down. Golf and volleyball are in the postseason. Swimming will join them Oct. 19 (for Class 3A and 4A, at least), then cross country on Oct. 26. Football has a bit longer, with the postseason starting Nov. 13, but even so, we're in the home stretch.
Normally, for each sports season, I'll write a column where I highlight some underrated players and performances. I debated the best way to revive this column in 2020, and I landed on doing it the same way as always. After all, even though the seasons might be shortened or feel different, the sports are the same and the performances are as good as ever. So here we are, and here we go:
Cardinal Mooney High's boys golf team was strong last season, boasting one of the area's top players in Noah Kumar — and the Class 1A state champion in Robbie Higgins. Both golfers have since graduated, but the Cougars have kept the success coming. The team won its district tournament, held Oct. 12 at Laurel Oak Country Club, by three strokes over Bishop Verot, and junior Wyatt Plattner took medalist honors by shooting one under par (71). It remains to be seen how far Plattner and the Cougars can go, but they have a shot at a strong finish. The regional tournament will be held Oct. 19 at The Eagles Club in Tampa.
Senior quarterback Dominic Bennett has been carrying the Sarasota High football team's offense on his back. While it has not always been easy for the Sailors (3-3) in 2020, the first under Coach Brody Wiseman, Bennett has been reliable. On Sept. 18, he ran for 220 yards and threw for another 100, scoring four combined touchdowns in a 42-27 road win against Hollins High. He also had five touchdowns in the team's season-opening win against North Port High. That's impressive, even more so considering Bennett has been asked to play running back and defensive back in the past. He's the team's do-it-all glue guy. The Sailors will try to get back above .500 on Friday in a game against Manatee High (3-0). It will be a challenge, but if anyone can do it, Bennett can.
At Riverview High, senior running back Michael "Poodah" Hayes has proven why he was able to commit to play for Penn next season (where he will join senior teammate Michael Fraraccio, a tight end). The 5-foot-11 Hayes has accumulated 364 total yards this season (302 rushing, 62 receiving) in four games. For a team that prefers to make its bones on the ground, that is important production. The Rams are 3-1 with a game against (Hillsborough) Riverview High on Friday. If they win, it likely means Hayes had a big game.
Finally, Cardinal Mooney senior girls cross country runner Rachel Jarrett had a strong finish at the Viking XC Invitational, held Oct. 10 at Bishop Verot High. She finished 19th (20:31.66) out of 214 competitors. The run was the Mooney girls program's fastest run of the season and a good tune-up for the postseason.
Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.