So much for a gloom and doom forecast.
One week after a Kickoff Classic loss to North Miami Beach and what could be considered a less-than-optimistic outlook for the 2014 season from Miami Springs High School football coach Darryel Bethune, Hawks fans got quite a pleasant surprise last week.
That’s when their underdog Golden Hawks football team took the field against rival Hialeah in the annual battle for the Mayor’s Cup, a piece of hardware that has resided in the halls of Hialeah High School since 2008.
And, two-and-half hours after they kicked off, the Golden Hawks had themselves a nifty, opening-night 21-14 upset of the T-Breds at Milander Stadium. And with victory, came the spoils of the Mayor’s Cup trophy which excited Springs players proudly held above their heads after the game.
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“What a great feel-good win,” said Bethune. “Not only had the kids never seen this trophy, a lot of them didn’t even know a trophy existed and how important the history of this rivalry was until I reminded them during the week. All summer and spring, trying to tell them about it. And then to finally give it some substance, see the trophy, lift it up, what a great feeling and great way to kick off the season.”
The win over Hialeah marked the first time Springs has won the annual rivalry game since a 33-12 victory on September 7, 2007 when a kid named T.Y. Hilton was wearing a Springs uniform.
How good did it feel? The ‘07 victory actually broke a seven year drought meaning this marked just the second time since the turn of the milenium that Springs has been able to parade the trophy around Milander and bring it back home.
“A lot of people didn’t think we could pull it off but we worked hard and made it happen,” said Springs senior quarterback and co-captain Gerald Anderson who completed 5-of-10 passes for 177 yards including a 58 yard second quarter touchdown hookup with Johnny Rembert. “Coach (Bethune) kept reminding us all week that the Cup hadn’t been back in the school since T.Y. (Hilton) was here so it was on our mind. We wanted to get the Cup back and make the student body, alumni and administration all proud and I think we did that.”
The evening couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Hawks when return specialist and defensive back Myron Morris fumbled the opening kickoff and Hialeah recovered.
But Morris didn’t hang his head. In fact he rose to the occasion and wound up having a huge night to come through for his team.
Just four plays after his fumble, he picked off Hialeah quarterback Jose Palau near the goal line and returned it 60 yards to the T-Bred 40. Even after the bulk of his return got called back due to a block in the back on Springs, Morris came through when he reeled in a deep pass from Anderson for 42 yards that set the Hawks up deep in T-Bred territory.
A few plays later, Bethune watched his son D.J. Bethune take a handoff from Anderson and bolt to the end zone for a 19 yard touchdown and 6-0 Springs lead after the extra point was blocked.
“When I messed up, I felt like I had to do whatever it took to make it up to my teammates and fortunately I got that pick right away and stop them from scoring,” said Morris. “You have to have a short memory when you make mistakes out there and keep playing hard.”
Leading 6-2 early in the second, Anderson then hooked up with Rembert for the 58 yard score and 13-2 lead.
It was here that the Hawks could have really opened up a much bigger lead as they drove back down inside of Hialeah’s 10 late in the first half but D.J. Bethune lost the ball on a carry into the line and they had to be content with an 11 point halftime lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hialeah finally cut into Springs’ lead when Palau found running back Lynn Bryant on a 5 yard touchdown pass to make it 13-8 (following a failed two-point conversion attempt).
And when the T-Bred defense got a three-and-out and the ball back for their offense, it looked like that trophy the Hawks had their hands on might be slipping away.
But that’s when Morris came through again as he picked off Palau for the second time to set the Hawks up around mid field.
Anderson then led the offense downfield and, facing a third-and-goal at the four, Rembert went in motion and took a handoff from Anderson and raced to the flag for a huge touchdown with just under five minutes left. Even a botched extra point attempt worked out when holder David Bradley picked up a loose ball and found the end zone for a two point conversion and 21-8 lead.
Hialeah literally scored on the game’s final play on a one-yard plunge that only the made the final score look a little closer.
“Beating Hialeah was our main goal all summer and we’re going to try our hardest to keep that trophy in our school,” said junior defensive end Ben Guzman who enjoyed a nice night with a pair of sacks. “This season is now off to a great start and I can’t wait to play teams like Edison and Mater Academy down the road. They’ll be big games and we want to try and win them all.”
Winning them all would be great of course but Anderson and Bethune were very quick to point out that only one game is in the books and nine more are still in front of them plus what they hope might be another playoff berth.
“Sure it feels great to beat Hialeah but it’s just one win and we’ve got nine more in front of us,” said Anderson. “We set the bar high last year by going 7-3 and making the playoffs (as a district runnerup) and now we need to see if we can go out there and top that, maybe by winning the district instead of finishing second.”
“Definitely a great way to start the season,” said Bethune. “But I learned a long time ago that you need to humble with this stuff. It’s only one game, a big one at that but we’ve got a long season left in front of us and we’re in a very tough district with American as the favorite and of course Mater is really good again and teams like Hialeah-Miami Lakes and Goleman are improved as well. So we need to keep our hands on the steering wheel at this point and right now we’re not worried about anyone else but Hialeah Gardens this week.”
Bethune spoke of Springs’ next opponent who the Hawks will square off against this Saturday night, Sept. 6 at Milander Stadium at 7 p.m.
And after spending the last three seasons as Miami-Dade County’s doormat program by not winning a single game, the Gladiators made a big jump back toward respectability last Friday by ending their 30-game losing streak with a 26-0 shutout of Westland Hialeah.