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Durant Football Players Forced To Quarantine

Durant+Football+Players+Forced+To+Quarantine

After a 13-10 loss last Friday to the Newsome Wolves, more unfortunate news was delivered to the Durant Cougars.

Over the weekend, multiple starters from Newsome tested positive for Covid-19. Durant’s seven offensive starters, who came in direct contact with Newsome’s players, were forced to quarantine after Coach Michael Gottman received a call from Principal Gary Graham informing Gottman of the situation.

The seven players that came in contact with the Newsome’s players were instructed to quarantine for two weeks, in ordinance with Hillsborough County guidelines, and attend school through e-learning, which Gottman said was going well.

Due to the student athletes required to quarantine, Durant’s game against Bloomingdale, originally scheduled for September 17, was moved to the Cougars’ by-week on October 9. While Gottman expressed his concerns regarding his starting lineup, he was optimistic of the situation, referencing the backup lineup that will now have the chance to start the next game

“I do like the fact that we are getting seven other people prepared to play, [but we are] definitely going to miss the seven offensive starters, because of quarantine, but there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s kind of the hand that we’re dealt, and we’re going to play the cards and try to win a football game Friday night,” said Gottman.

Gottman assumed Durant’s football team would have to deal with exposure to the Coronavirus at some point but did not realize it would be the first week. The team had been taking safety precautions during practice, such as social distancing and wiping equipment with a cleaning solution after workouts.

Durant and Newsome are not the first high school teams to be quarantined because of a potential Coronavirus outbreak. Jefferson and Hillsborough High Schools’ football teams were forced to miss opening night, as a number of players had tested positive.

Despite the four teams already impacted by the virus, District Spokesperson Erin Maloney said it is still important for the teams to play. The emotional and social benefits from high school sports are vital to success both inside and outside the classroom setting.

“School is about much more than just going into classrooms and getting good grades. There’s a social, emotional aspect as well,” said Maloney.

The Cougars will face East Bay at Durant on September 25 for the second game of the season.

 

 

About the Writer
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Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Congratulations to all the girls who made the JV cheer team

Congratulations+to+all+the+girls+who+made+the+JV+cheer+team

Congratulations to all the girls who made the varsity cheer team

Congratulations+to+all+the+girls+who+made+the+varsity+cheer+team

Wrestling Is Family For Durant Grad Hendon Haley

Hendon+Haley

Hendon Haley

Hendon Haley is a senior at Durant High School. His passion for wrestling started about 12 years ago when his oldest brother, who was a freshman at Durant at the time, introduced the sport to Haley. Haley, along with his three older brothers, has wrestled ever since.

In the wrestling season of 2019, he was Hillsborough county champion, regional champion, and placed fourth in the state of Florida. Haley is most proud of his success at the state tournaments.

“It’s the biggest thing that I’ve gotten out of all my hard work,” said Haley. “That is something I’ll never forget and something very important to me, it was really everything I wanted.”

This past year, Haley was again a Hillsborough County champion, but he also was district champion, placed third in regionals, and was a state qualifier.

“Something that motivates me would definitely be my brothers because they have always been there for me in the practice room and they’ve done very well themselves in high school,” said Haley.”

— Hendon Haley

“The hardest part about wrestling is that it is an individual sport. It is one hundred percent up to you and how you perform as a wrestler,” said Haley.

Haley has been able to progress over the years and create a positive mindset going into his matches. He strives to be the best he can be and is supported by the motivation from his brothers.

“Something that motivates me would definitely be my brothers because they have always been there for me in the practice room and they’ve done very well themselves in high school,” said Haley.

Haley came into high school naturally motivated to either match or top his brothers in wrestling. He says that it is good to look up to people who are the best at what you do and learn from them. Haley also looks up to Jordan Burroughs, Olympic athlete and four-time world champion freestyle wrestler.

He has wrestled for Durant wrestling since his freshman year and was the captain for the 2019-2020 wrestling season. All four of his brothers were also captain of the Durant team. He takes the role of being a captain seriously and works hard to make sure the team strives for success.

“It’s a very important job and that’s how you build teams, you got to start with good leadership,” said Haley.

Haley has plans to attend Florida college, a Christian college in Temple Terrace. He doesn’t plan on continuing wrestling in college, but he wants a role in the wrestling community as either a coach, referee, or as someone who helps individuals with wrestling techniques.

Haley will miss his wrestling family after high school. He plans to keep in touch with teammates and attend Durant wrestling tournaments.

“We have one of the longest seasons of any other high school sport, so to be together with guys like that every day in the room for so long I’m going to miss that family aspect of just being there and grinding through hard times,” said Haley.

About the Writer
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Adamari Jaimez, Staff Writer

Adamari Jaimez is a senior at Durant High School. She has been part of journalism since her freshman year, involved in both the yearbook and newspaper...

Sommer Has Big Plans After Graduation

Colby+Sommer

Colby Sommer

Colby Sommer, one of Durant’s senior star lacrosse players originally started out as a baseball player. In fact, Sommer started lacrosse after seeing a series of lacrosse vine videos in middle school. The vine account, “Best Lax Edits,” edited videos of players, and highlighted exciting lacrosse moments during games. Sommer was hooked.

Sommer started playing in seventh grade at Fish Hawk Fields. Since starting the sport, he has made lacrosse a big part of his life by continuing with the sport all throughout high school and even earning a scholarship to play in college.

Sommer received a scholarship to St. Andrews University to play lacrosse. He was offered eighty percent financial coverage, along with an athletic dorm, a job in sports media department, and a food card.

Firefighting is, as Sommer says, his dream job.”

— Colby Sommer

However, Sommer has unfortunately faced some serious hardships that dramatically changed his plans for the fall. This season, Sommer collided with his teammate during one of their away games. While running down the field, he went headfirst into his teammate’s chest. After being rushed to the hospital, Sommer found out there was severe damage to his neck and spine.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Sommer could not stay long at the hospital, so he was sent home earlier than expected. He went home with crutches, and a neck brace to support the injuries from further damage. After many visits to the doctor and surgeries to help with residing injuries, Sommer is now completing physical therapy to help with regain full movement.

Although there has been much progress, Sommer will not be able to play lacrosse for his upcoming college season. Instead, he plans to stay home to recover from his injury while building a videography business. After fully recovering, Sommer wants to go into the fire academy to become a firefighter and attend Hillsborough Community College to continue schooling.

Firefighting is, as Sommer says, his “dream job.” Helping others has always been one of his priorities, especially throughout high school when many people need it most. Although SAU offered Sommer a student coaching position for the team, Sommer has decided to focus on this next path in the fire academy. He says he is “forever grateful for the opportunity” at SAU but is excited about his next steps with the fire academy.

About the Writer
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Marina Hawkins, Social Media Coordinator, Photo Editor

Marina Hawkins is a junior at Durant and is the Photo Editor and the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint newspaper. She is also part of the Varsity...

Senior Ahmad Fitts Leaves a Baseball Legacy at DHS

Senior Fitts at bat

Senior Fitts at bat

Durant senior, Ahmad Fitts, is an accomplished baseball player at Durant High School. He’s excelled on the field with a .342 career batting average and .964 OPS. Some players put up numbers like that and get a big head, but not Fitts.

“Fitts, in general, is one of the greatest people to be around,” said junior and Durant second baseman, Javier Quintana. “He never boasts and never puts anyone down.”

Quintana wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Junior and Cougars’ pitcher, Zander Fisk, also described Fitts as a great teammate. “He is good friends with everyone on the team and hardworking on and off the field.”

Even the coaching staff had good things to say about Fitts. Coach Keith Farina, assistant to Head Coach Butch Valdes, described Fitts as a “quiet kid who works his butt off.”

Fitts has enjoyed his time at Durant thoroughly. “I loved just being around the whole environment and my brothers,” he said.

“Fitts, in general, is one of the greatest people to be around.””

— Javier Quintana

Fitts talked about one of his teammates who made a big impact on his life–Durant class of 2019 player, Brendan Queen.

“When I was a freshman and watched Queen play he seemed like a pretty good player,” Fitts said. “Then my sophomore year, Queen ended up getting moved to the outfield and I really got to know him well.” Playing with Queen, and the many other guys he’s shared the field with at Durant, has been “just fun all around” for Fitts. “My experience playing for Durant has been so great, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Fitts also has enjoyed his coaches at Durant. He liked having Coach Valdes around. “Valdes really makes you tough both physically and mentally.” Fitts insists, “When you really get to know Valdes, he’s just a buff teddy bear.”

Coach Scolaro is also a favorite of Fitts’. “He is one of the funniest coaches I’ve ever had” but also “knows what it takes to be great.” He addded, “Scolaro takes a lot of time to help each player be better at what they do.”

The feeling is very mutual from the coaching staff. “It’s been a pleasure to coach him,” Coach Farina said. “He’s a polite and respectful kid who only wants to continue to learn and improve his game.”

Fitts’ great attitude, top tier talent, and fantastic work ethic all paid off as last fall he committed to Florida Southern College and will be a part of the Mocs’ program there. Fitts was able to take a deep breath after he committed.

“I was so relieved because getting recruited is a very hard and stressful process,” he said. “When you finally find that school that’s for you it’s the best feeling.”

Unfortunately, during the winter, Fitts tore his ACL and was told by doctors he could not play the remainder of his senior season. Thankfully the injury hasn’t affected his relationship with Florida Southern. “They just want me to take my time and get healthy,” said Fitts.

The rehab for Fitts has progressed as planned. “For the moment I can’t exactly run or do anything extreme, but I walk normally and can do minimum weights,” said Fitts. He isn’t worried about his recovery–he is excited about returning to the sport he loves. “I will return better than ever.”

Quintana thanked Fitts for his positive attitude and leadership on the team, and then added: “Fitts, I’m up.”

About the Writer
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David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

Star Football Coach Don Shula Dies

With 33 years of coaching for the NFL, Shula left behind an astounding lecagcy and will be missed by the NFL and fans.

Courtesy of AP Photos

With 33 years of coaching for the NFL, Shula left behind an astounding lecagcy and will be missed by the NFL and fans.

On May 4, 2020, the sports world lost one of the greatest coaches in football. Don Shula passed away at the age of 90 years old. According to ESPN, the Miami Dolphins released a statement to the public stating “he died peacefully at his home.” 

Shula, a professional football player and coach, was best known for leading the 1972 Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl victory. They went undefeated during the regular season and in the playoffs with a record of 17-0 that year. Shula is also the winningest coach in NFL history. In a 2007 interview, Shula stated “I was putting my legacy on the line with 16 wins and zero losses, it would’ve been a disaster if we lost the Super Bowl.” 

After winning the Super Bowl in 1972, he coached the Miami Dolphins the next season and ended that season with 14 wins and two losses. The Dolphins would go on to win the 1973 Super Bowl Championship game by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7. In 1974, the Dolphins would once again come in first place during the regular season, but fell short in the AFC Championship game to the Oakland Raiders. 

Miami Heat President Pat Riley said “He was tough, courageous, and an authentic leader with great integrity in his pursuit of perfection, which he achieved!” 

Shula started his football career as a defensive back in 1951 with the Cleveland Browns. He also played for the Baltimore Colts and the Washington Redskins. For a short period of time, he was the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. He then went on to be the head coach for one of his former teams, the Baltimore Colts and then coached the Miami Dolphins. He coached the Baltimore Colts for 7 seasons and the Miami Dolphins for 26 seasons. 

Shula won two Super Bowl’s with the Dolphins and was a four time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year. In 1993, Shula was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. He had 328 regular season coaching wins and 19 in the playoffs. Shula coached three quarterbacks: Johnny Unitas, Bob Griese, and Dan Marino, who all went on to go into the Hall of Fame. In 1997, Shula was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 2019, Shula was revealed to be on the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All Time Team. 

His legacy shows that he will be missed by many people and had a very successful life.

About the Writer
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Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

Hailey McKean Represents Clay Shooting at Durant

Hailey+McKean+%28center%29+is+a+student+at+Durant%2C+heavily+involved+in+clay+shooting.

Courtesy of Hailey McKean

Hailey McKean (center) is a student at Durant, heavily involved in clay shooting.

There are so many sports out there like football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and many more. With so many sports to pick from, one that gets overlooked is clay pigeon shooting, also known as clay target shooting.

Clay shooting is a of sport where participants fire at flying clay pigeon targets in the sky with a shotgun, and it all started way back in the 19th century. In the late 1800s, shooting targets started to become a very popular sport, especially over in the United Kingdom.

In fact, there was even a time where there used to be no clay at all, it would be glass balls filled with feathers, and around that same time, a man named Emile Laporte invented the machine that actually throws the targets into the air. As time has gone on, the sport has evolved into what it is today.

 This is a sport with a very wide age range, it can vary anywhere from a young teenager all the way to 65 years and older. One teenager who is involved in clay target shooting is a student at Durant High School.

Hailey McKean, a sophomore at Durant High School, started clay pigeon shooting in 2017. McKean has participated in a few competitions since then, she has even won “Highest in Female” back when she first began to compete in 2017. 

McKean has been clay target shooting for about three years now and her love for it sprouted out of her military based family. Hailey McKean believed that a great way to embrace her family’s involvement in the military would be to get involved in clay pigeon shooting, like her father. When asked about what influenced Hailey McKean to start clay pigeon shooting, she said, “The love of it from my dad.” 

There is so much involved in clay target shooting that a lot of people do not think about. According to the NRA (National Rifle Association),  some important factors that go into this sport are learning how to read the targets, learning when to slap the trigger, and much more.

A shotgun can be a very dangerous tool if not used correctly and safely, so that is something that a participant has to constantly think about when shooting clay.

Clay target shooting might not get as much glory as football or baseball, but it is just as worthy. This thrilling sport deserves just as much praise as some popular sports like basketball, baseball, and hockey because it involves just as much strategy as those sports, McKean comments on this saying, “You need to have the mindset and the accuracy and you have to train for it just like any other sport.”

Practices for this sport can include reviewing errors and correcting them, practicing one’s stance, and so much more.

  Clay pigeon shooting is very important to McKean, she expands on this saying, “I don’t do it for the competition part, I just do it so…  as a community we can all come together.”

This sport means a whole lot to McKean, when she goes out to shoot clay, she states that, “It is helping me feel like an empowered woman.”

Not only is this a way for Hailey McKean to embrace her family’s environment, but it is also helping her to grow as a person. 

About the Writer
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Mattie Powers, Staff Writer

Mattie Powers is a senior at Durant High School and a Staff Writer for the PawPrint newspaper. Not only is Mattie Powers involved in the PawPrint, but...

N.C.A.A. Extends Eligibility for College Seniors

Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, all spring sports seasons were suspended due to public health concerns.

Courtesy of AP News

Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, all spring sports seasons were suspended due to public health concerns.

On March 12 many college spring sports teams were devastated to find out that the rest of their senior season was canceled and had come to an end. However, this feeling was partially lifted Monday, March 30, when the N.C.A.A. Division 1 Council announced that seniors athletes of all spring sports would have another year of eligibility due to their seasons being cut short. 

Even with this exciting news, there are still many restrictions on athlete eligibility. Individual universities and conferences will make the decision on whether to welcome athletes back or not. The Ivy League conference announced on Thursday, April 2 that extended eligibility went against the league’s current policies. 

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the League made the following statement regarding the decision. “Existing eligibility policies will remain in place, including its longstanding practice that athletic opportunities are for undergraduates.”

Even with the given opportunity, some seniors have decided that they do not want to return, regardless of whether their college allows it or not. According to the New York Times, Molly Milligan, a senior rower undergraduate at Penn State, decided she will not return if given the opportunity. 

She plans to be a graduate assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin while earning her master’s degree. She made the following statement regarding this decision. “The trauma of the past two weeks was really challenging to deal with. It is hard now going back to change that mind-set”

Some restrictions on whether the athletes will return are strictly financial. Schools only have a limited number of scholarships they can give out among the teams, and with the combination of incoming freshmen, transfer students, and seniors staying behind, it might be more than the school can handle. 

According to the New York Times, each team has a limited number of scholarships they can give out. Andy Fee, the athletic director at Long Beach State, made a statement regarding this saying that he feels that in today’s current world, its money [universities] just don’t have. Each school only has a certain amount of scholarships that it can give out to players.

But there is still hope for current athletes. Colleges along with the N.C.A.A. have announced that they plan to extend the rosters to make room for both the incoming recruits and seniors staying behind, this way the coaches of the teams will not have to worry about making cuts on recruits already designated to join the team. 

Time will tell how each college will respond to these announcements. During times like this it is important to hang on to as much normalcy as possible. This opportunity will allow seniors the chance to complete their senior seasons in the way they have always hoped for.

About the Writer
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Faith Miller, Staff Writer

Faith Miller is a senior at Durant High School and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint. This year will be her fourth season on the varsity Durant...

News Updates Besides COVID-19

Beloved country singer Kenny Rogers sadly passed away of natural causes at 81 years old.

Wade Payne, Associated Press

Beloved country singer Kenny Rogers sadly passed away of natural causes at 81 years old.

COUNTRY MUSIC LOSES ONE OF ITS FINEST

Country Music star Kenny Rogers died on March 20th in his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia.  Known for blurring the line between country and pop music, Rogers’ music career lasted 60 years beginning with his 1957 single “That Crazy Feeling.”  Rogers spent the early years of his career in a jazz band and later a folk music band, but his solo career took off in 1978 with “Lucille,” winning him the first of four Grammy Awards.  Rogers released his last song, “Once Again Its Christmas,” in 2015 and went on his final tour in three days later, visiting only five cities.

Rogers was briefly hospitalized in May of 2019 for dehydration, but afterwards said he planned on “sticking around through the years to come.”  However, Rogers passed under the care of hospice from natural causes according to a family spokesman.

Celebrities took to the internet mourning the death of the county legend, including Dolly Parton, who sang the hit duet “Islands in the Stream” with Rogers. “I love Kenny with all my heart.  My heart is broken,” she said.

Sarah Trahern, chief executive officer of the Country Music Association, spoke of his fame, saying, “He was a global superstar who helped introduce country music to audiences around the world.”

The Gambler is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, and nephews.

TOM BRADYT AND THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Future NFL Hall of Famer Tom Brady, 42, signed a two-year contract worthy of up to $59 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2020 season on March 20th.  After spending his first 20 years with the New England Patriots and earning six Superbowl rings, Brady comes to the Bucs “excited, humbled, and hungry,” per his official announcement of the deal on Instagram.  

Brady has made nine Superbowl appearances, but joins the Bucs, who currently have the second-longest active playoff drought and only one Superbowl win.  The Buccaneers are looking forward an added spark of the leadership as well as the postseason experience Brady can bring to the team. Following the signing, Bucs second year head coach Bruce Arians said, “Tom is the most successful quarterback in the history, but what makes special is his ability to make those around him better.”

Tampa fans have high hopes going into the 2020 season while Boston fans mourn the loss of their football star.  Codey Winters, a Buccaneers fan commented on the Twitter announcement, saying “This is the start of something special.”  Jeff Fuller, a Patriots fan, commented, saying, “From Pats fan to Bucs fan, you guys are getting the hardest working and greatest QB ever.”

FIRST LAUNCH OF THE UNITED STATES SPACE FORCE

President Trump signed legislation creating the US Space Force December 20th, 2019, thus creating the sixth branch of US armed forces.  The Space Force is the first addition to the Armed Forces since 1947, when President Truman created the Air Force.  The Space Force will maintain US dominance in space by collecting information and relaying communications around the world.  

On March 26th, the first national security mission of the USSF launched the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite (AEHF) from Port Canaveral.  A representative for Lockheed Martin, the contractor for the AEHF satellite, released a statement saying, “The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The jam-resistant system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.”  

After a short delay Thursday afternoon due to a misreading of the hydraulic equipment, the rocket was launched with the satellite from the east coast of Florida.  The information that will be communicated from the satellite should last beyond 2030, according to Lieutenant General John F Thompson, Commander of the Space and Missiles Systems Centre in California.  

DISNEY WELCOMES ZEBRA FILLY AND PORCUPETTE

Although Disney has closed its doors to humans in the wake of the Coronavirus, they are still welcoming new animal guests to their parks.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently welcomed a female young porcupine and zebra foal to the park, making the announcement on their Instagram page.  

The baby porcupine, or porcupette, was born on February 25th to mother Peri.  Peri was featured during her pregnancy with vet Natalie Mylniczenko on the “One Day at Disney” documentary on Disney+.  The prehensile tail porcupette will become part of the Species Survival Plan, a plan to preserve threatened or endangered species.  The Disney veterinary team tested her small, red quills to determine her gender. Peri and her mother are staying at Animal Kingdom’s Conservation Station.

Just after the birth of the young porcupine, Disney’s zebra mother, Heidi, welcomed her first offspring.  The zebra foal is yet to be named, but, according to reports, is strong and healthy. The 65-pound filly was standing within a half hour of being born.  Mark Penning, the Vice President of Animals, Science, and Environment at Disney’s parks, said the foal will take the next few weeks to bond with her mother.  The baby will have the chance to memorize her mother’s scent and unique markings before being introduced to the Kilimanjaro Safari’s Savannah.  

About the Writer
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Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

Durant Hockey Team Finishes a Great Season

The+Durant+hockey+team+makes+it+all+the+way+to+the+Lightning+High+School+Hockey+League+during+the+2019-2020+season.

Plant City Observer

The Durant hockey team makes it all the way to the Lightning High School Hockey League during the 2019-2020 season.

The Durant hockey team had an outstanding season led by Captain Christpoher “CJ” Comunale. They were also led by Alternate Captains: Michael Romeo, a junior at Durant High School, Jordan Putnam, and Xander Wise, both juniors at Strawberry Crest High School. 

With Comunale being injured at the beginning of the season due to an injury, he only played 13 games. Yet, the team stepped up to make it all the way to the second round of the playoffs.

Durant has two goalies. Ryan Putnam, a freshman at Strawberry Crest High School, who was one of the best goalies in the league. He ended the regular season with a record of 8 wins, 3 losses, and 3 ties. Will Chabalowski, a sophomore at Brandon Academy, also had a great season with a regular season record of 4 wins, 1 loss, and 3 ties.

Durant’s top scorer was Jordan Putnam. He ended with 21 goals and 16 assists. Rising star, Ethan Carstens, a freshman at Durant High School, ended with 13 goals and 13 assists. With Comunale back towards the end of the season, yet only playing 13 games, he had 8 goals and 13 assists. Durant also had very strong defense and will continue to improve their game

Durant faced Bloomingdale High School’s hockey team in their final game of the regular season and won the game by a final score of 3-1. Durant would end their 2019-20 season with a record of 12 wins, 4 losses, and 6 ties.

Durant would then go on to the first round of the playoffs and they would defeat Jesuit High School 6-3. The goals in the game for Durant came from CJ Comunale, Michael Hemmeke, Colin Smargon, Xander Wise, Ethan Carstens, and Robert Noble.

 Durant went on to the division finals to face Jenkins High School. Durant would fall behind 4-1 entering the third period. Yet, the team would not go down without a fight. Durant would score four goals in the final period. Jenkins would win the game 7-5 going all the way to the Lightning High School Hockey League finals to face Seminole High School. 

Durant’s season did not end there. Durant went on to the 2020 SAHOF States tournament, a three day tournament for tier one and tier two teams that made the playoffs. Durant played a total of three games in two days. 

They then played  Boca Raton High School and Durant won the game, 8-2. The next day, Feb. 23, 2020, Durant lost to Miami-Dade High School 5-0 but later that day they were  eliminated from the tournament by Southwest Broward losing in a shootout, 4-3.

Durant had a great season and we wish them the best of luck for the next season.

Rays Make Another Interesting Swap With Padres

Hunter Renfroe joins the 2020 Tamoa Bay Rays season lineup.

Hunter Renfroe joins the 2020 Tamoa Bay Rays season lineup.

If you got déjà vu from the Rays recent trade, it’s understandable considering how similar this deal is to another trade the two teams made only a month before. In January Tampa Bay made a shocking deal to trade outfielder Tommy Pham to San Diego in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and second base prospect Xavier Edwards. Just a couple weeks later the Rays traded another established Major League player to the Pads in relief pitcher Emilio Pagan for another Padres outfielder in Manuel Margot. Also headed to the Bay is catching and outfield prospect Logan Driscoll who had a slash line of .340/.458/.797 in the Northwest league. He’ll start the 2020 season in Class-A Bowling Green for Tampa Bay. 

Why did the Rays make this trade?

Fans may be curious as to why the Rays traded Pagan, the team’s leader in saves with twenty. For starters, Tampa Bay felt confident in their many bullpen arms, including Nick Anderson, Colin Poche, Diego Castillo, and Oliver Drake. They’re also counting on a rebound year from Jose Alvarado, who struggled after a scorching start last season. On top of that if guys like Brent Honeywell and Anthony Banda can fully recover from Tommy John surgery and be effective, it’s safe to say Tampa Bay will have a deep enough bullpen. 

The fact the Rays had four outfielders before this trade occurred also makes it interesting. Margot is a defensive outfielder, primarily in centerfield, with a very similar profile to Kevin Kiermaier but from the right side of the plate. However, Margot is coming off a year in which he hit .330/.420/.466 clip against lefties, making him an ideal platoon with Kiermaier, who struggles against left handers. Outfielder Randy Arozarena, acquired from St. Louis this offseason, is affected the most by this deal as instead of having a chance to be the fourth outfielder on the Opening Day roster, Margot will take that spot. Chances are Arozarena will start the year in Triple-A Durham.

General Manager of the Rays Erik Neander told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that they had been on Margot for a while, and had tried to acquire him with prospects. When that didn’t work the Rays resorted to trading from a place of depth to acquire a needed position player. Neander also told Topkin, “We feel really good about where we stand right now.” At the end of the day this trade sends a message to Tampa Bay: We want to win now. 

Why did the Padres make this deal?

This one’s a little easier to explain. The main reason for San Diego agreeing to this is they wanted to bolster an already solid bullpen. MLB Network rated Padres closer Kirby Yates as the top relief pitcher in baseball and now they can throw Pagan into that mix, which should be lethal. Having a strong bullpen will be crucial for San Diego as they will need to eat up innings to back a very young and inexperienced starting rotation.

However there are negatives to this deal for San Diego as centerfield is wide open for the Pads. Without the rangy Margot in center the outfield defense takes a significant hit. Newcomers such as Trent Grisham and former Ray Tommy Pham may have to plug that hole for the Friars, both of which are used to playing the corner outfield positions. The Padres took a risk in the outfield to strengthen the ‘pen, and only time will tell if it was worth it.

What’s next for Tampa Bay?

That’s a tough question with the always innovative Rays’ front office. After the Jose Martinez trade most Rays’ fans, including me, felt the Rays were pretty much set with their roster heading into Spring Training other than a few minor league signings. Clearly we were wrong as the Rays made another significant trade only days before pitchers and catchers reported. 

However, with only about two weeks before the Rays’ Spring Training opener, I just don’t see the Rays making another big trade, especially one that removes current players from the 25-man roster. Although Tampa Bay’s front office has a knack of making surprising trades so I wouldn’t completely rule it out. One thing is for certain, the Rays want to win, and now. If they can make another trade to improve the roster significantly for the right cost, they’ll do it.

About the Writer
Photo of David Fackson
David Fackson, Staff Writer

David is a junior and is a Staff Writer for the Durant PawPrint Newspaper. He is a huge baseball fan, specifically a Rays fan who loves writing about the...

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