Cowboys shutout Patriots to waltz into Week 11 still undefeated


Susan Wood

Gaither cornerback Jaylon Willingham runs from Freedom defenders to score a touchdown after intercepting a pass.

Rachel Slay, Editor-in-Chief

At the conclusion of Week 9, they were undefeated, ranked 28 in all of Florida and third in Class 6A.  Now, after a 48-0 win over the Freedom Patriots in Week 10, the Gaither Cowboys can scratch one more team off their list.  

Tony Bartalo threw four touchdown passes in just a quarter and a half of football.  Deveon Knighton and Drelin “Speedy” Pittman each caught a pair of TD passes. Pittman’s first was in the Cowboys’ first possession: an all passes, three-play, 60-yard drive.  

Incomplete passes, turnovers and small rush plays kept Freedom from doing anything significant offensively.  Patriot quarterback Reese Linne was intercepted twice: once by Hunter Mintzer and again by Jaylon Willingham, who ran it back for 6. 

Kobe McCloud relieved Bartalo shortly before the end of the half.  He snagged a TD pass of his own with a completion to Jeff Duclos. Jayden Mendez racked up over 150 yards on punt returns and took the opening kick of the second half to the house.  

Despite the hefty shutout, head coach Kirk Karsen was not impressed with his team’s performance.  

“We did enough to put up a pretty decent score but I don’t think we were 100 percent focused,” Karsen said.  

A lack of focus is understandable as the highly anticipated meeting between the powerhouse, Armwood (8-1), and the sleeping giant, Gaither (9-0), looms overhead.  The Cowboys have already secured a playoff spot, but next week’s game is still a must-win for Karsen. 

“I think no matter what happens it will make us better because I don’t think we’ll see a better team than Armwood in the playoffs.  I really don’t. They’re an outstanding football team and we’ll have to play one of our best games to beat them,” Karsen said.  

The Gaither Cowboys have been unbeatable for nine weeks straight.  They’ll host the Armwood Hawks at Death Valley Stadium in the last game of the regular season.  And Karsen says, “I think we have a really good shot at being 10-0.”