Down 14-10 at halftime against host Nova, South Plantation had bigger things to worry about than history on Friday night.
But thanks to three second-half touchdowns by senior running back Alex Collins, the Paladins won its season opener 31-14 and broke down a barrier in the process.
With 1:49 left to play and a 17-point advantage, senior Erin Dimeglio became the first girl to play quarterback in a regular-season high school football game in Florida.
“It’s been a zoo,” coach Doug Gatewood said. “All day today I’ve got cameras coming talking to her, God bless her. She handles it better than anybody else. When she goes on the field, she’s single-minded focus, but it’s crazy. Great publicity for the school — it’s a positive thing — but at the end of the day it’s not why we did it. We did it because she’s a legitimate third-string quarterback.”
On the sideline as senior backup quarterback Brian Connerton handed off the ball, Dimeglio was told to “get ready.” She replied that she was.
From the shotgun, she handed the ball off twice to senior running back Daniel Dayes for a combined 28 yards.
“I want to throw a pass, but we don’t want to throw a pass because it could be intercepted,” Dimeglio said. “It wouldn’t be good to throw a pick and run back.”
The 5-6, 160-pounder is the starting point guard for the girls’ basketball team. She also played flag football under Gatewood, who asked her to come out during the spring to throw the ball.
In return, Dimeglio wanted to try on pads and a helmet to see how it felt. Ever since she was a little kid she wanted to play, but her parents said it was too rough. From there, Dimeglio kept practicing with the team, liked it enough and stuck with it.
At one point during the fourth quarter when the Paladins extended the lead to 17, the crowd began to chant “Erin.” Last week, she took snaps in the preseason game against Seminole Ridge.
“It’s a great feeling, but I think it should be a whole team,” Dimeglio said. “It’s a team effort, not just me. I’m just out here to prove myself. Just prove by doing it on the field and not by saying anything. Don’t give up on your dreams. Keep dreaming and work at it.”
• Taravella 44, Coral Glades 6: Coral Glades hosted the second annual “Swamp Bowl” against Taravella at Coral Glades High School.
The Trojans used a Wing-T offense and broke the game open with 27 second-quarter points. The offense was led by Lorenzo Jerome with 104 yards passing with a touchdown. Jawanza Evans-Morris had four rushing touchdowns. Robert Miller led the Taravella defense with two interceptions.
• McArthur 27, West Broward 14: Terrell Bonds led the Mustangs by throwing three touchdowns in their home opener.
At the half, McArthur led 21-0 and West Broward didn’t have an answer for the Mustangs. West Broward responded with 14 unanswered points, but it wasn’t enough to prevail.
“It’s a great way to start the season, but we have a few things to iron out,” coach Andrew Rhoden said.
• Cypress Bay 29, Deerfield Beach 6: Led by running back Matt Dayes and a stingy defensive performance, Cypress Bay (1-0) began its season with the road victory.