Nothing like getting hit by a freight train.
That’s how the Miami Springs Golden Hawks football team must have felt last Friday night three hours after they took the field against American High School.
A much-antcipated showdown game between the undefeated 6-0 Hawks and the 5-1 Patriots, also undefeated in district play, turned out to be anything but that.
That’s because Springs played its worst half of football to date this season in the first half and the result was an impossible 30-0 hole they dug for themselves by the end of the half.
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The final score: American 33, Miami Springs 14. But trust us folks, it was never that close.
The victory moved the Patriots to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the district while Springs fell to 6-1, 3-1. American is now tied for first in the district with Mater Academy, which they will faceoff within two weeks.
But before that, the Golden Hawks and Mater will square off Oct. 24 at Curtis Park. With American a heavy favorite to win the district, this week’s contest will likely decide the district runner-up spot and a playoff berth.
“Coming out and executing the way we did, they (Springs) started doing a little jaw-jacking early and I tell everybody that I love it when the opposing teams talk to my guys because when that happens, my kids get really focused,” said American head coach Antony White. “We came out and everybody was focused and the kids went out and executed.”
The American offense, led by running back Jeremiah Pierce-Johnson, wasted little time impressing their coach. The Patriots took the opening kickoff and tore through the Springs defense, going 72 yards in just seven plays with Pierce-Johnson carrying the ball on six of the seven plays, going the final 10 yards for a score and 7-0 lead.
Following the kickoff, on Springs’ second offensive play of the night, Springs quarterback Gerald Andersion, who had only thrown one interception all season, picked a bad time to throw a second when American safety Antoine Webster jumped a route and not only picked him off, but returned it 32 yards for a score. American led 14-0 and the rout was on.
Eventually the Patriots would build the lead to 30-0 before a late Springs touchdown just before halftime when Anderson found Johnny Rembert on a 12-yard touchdown pass.
With the big lead, the Patriots got a little sloppy in the second half and lost their edge but their first half offensive onslaught proved to be more than enough.
Springs added a late “window-dressing” touchdown on an Anderson 3-yard touchdown run with four minutes left but the collateral damage from the first half had rendered the second half virutally meaningless for the Hawks.
“That was rough tonight,” said Springs head coach Darryel Bethune. “Obviously you can’t get off to that kind of a lousy start against anybody, let alone a good team like American and expect to come back. They did a good job early on of taking us out of the game and once we started making mistakes, they took advantage of them and made us pay.”
The Hawks are spending the week getting ready for a game just as, if not more important than the American game, in Mater Academy on Friday.
“Obviously with us losing tonight, the Mater game will be a battle of survival,” said Bethune. “We need to come out ready to go because last year’s game was a tight one and we anticipate another close one again.”
Bethune referred to last year’s thrilling (if you’re a Springs fan) 35-34 overtime victory by the Hawks that ultimately helped them clinch their first playoff berth in 18 years.
Bethune is right about the do-or-die scenario for his team. Mater is 4-0 in the district and if the Lions win this one, they will lock up the first playoff berth in the 10 year history of the program while eliminating Springs.
If the Hawks win, they would still need American to defeat Mater on Oct. 31 to lock up their second straight playoff berth after an 18 year absence.