Statistically speaking: A record 10 TD night sparks controversy

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

He may not have reached the heights of McKenzie (Ore.) High quarterback Will Totten, who (now famously) threw for 11 touchdowns in a game, but a freshman passer in Florida did the closest thing he could: He threw for 10. Unlike Totten -- whose McKenzie teams plays in Oregon's 8-man football classification -- Lake Nona (Fla.) High quarterback Tucker Israel did it playing against a full, 11-man defense fronted by Celebration (Fla.) High.

Lake Nona quarterback Tucker Israel
Lake Nona quarterback Tucker Israel

"Me and coach [Anthony Paradiso] thought we had something special planned tonight,'' Israel told the Orlando Sentinel. "We weren't thinking that, but as soon as the first half ended and I had eight, we decided to go for it.''

That's right. Not only did a freshman quarterback throw 10 touchdown passes, he threw eight of those scores in a single half. Those eight first half scores were already tied with the existing Florida state record -- set by Colonial (Fla.) High's Mike Mitchell in 1998 and Tampa (Fla.) Plant High's Aaron Murray in 2008 -- after two quarters, leaving him with a full half to pass for a single touchdown to set the record.

Israel did that in the third quarter, then added a 10th for good measure, bringing his season total to a whopping 24 touchdowns through the air; the Sentinel reported that his 14th touchdowns entering the game were the most in Central Florida.

"It was pretty awesome," Israel told the Sentinel.

"The offensive line really helped out, and receivers blocked downfield for the other receivers. The defense got a lot of three-and-outs so we could get the ball back."

Yet Israel's 10 touchdown performance has also sparked a firestorm of controversy in Florida, where some feel that the decision by his coach to openly gun for a new state record while holding a massive lead was an ugly show of bad sportsmanship.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the men leading that charge is Celebration football coach Ben Aarestad.

"I just don't know why anybody would let their starters play when it's 60-10," Aarestad told the Sentinel. "It was 47-10 in the second quarter and he's using all his time outs in a two-minute drill to score."

Paradiso was quick to defend his decision making process, and his record-setting passer.

"I understand everybody has their own perception," Paradiso said. "When you've got a kid who has a shot to get a record like that, you've got to go for it." ...

"At no time was I trying to throw downfield and run it up," Paradiso said. "Our kids made plays."

Regardless of the ethical questions surrounding the feat, having a 14-year-old lead his team to a 68-10 victory with 10 touchdown passes is a pretty remarkable accomplishment. The 534 passing yards he accounted for make for a pretty impressive number, too. And, as the video right here shows, the accomplishment left Israel with more than a state record; It also meant he put together a one-man top-10 highlight reel in a single game.

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