For the second consecutive season, Hallandale’s football team swept through the first half of its season undefeated.
But the Chargers know the important part began Friday night when they cruised to a 33-7 home win over Coconut Creek in their district opener.
“This is the best game our offensive line had all season,” Hallandale receiver Richie Cooper said. “We just came out early and wanted to keep our team in that killer instinct mind-set.”
Hallandale (5-0, 1-0 in District 15-6A) began last season 7-0 before losing two of its final three district games and missing the playoffs.
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The Chargers have repeated last season’s early success with a few lopsided wins against nondistrict competition.
But Friday’s dominant victory over Coconut Creek (3-2, 1-1), which was coming off its own impressive win last week over Dillard, was imperative.
On the night the school retired the high school jersey of alum and NFL standout Davin Joseph, Hallandale scored a clutch win as it prepares for the final four-game stretch of the season comprised solely of district games.
“We had to get this victory,” Hallandale coach Dameon Jones said. “We have a bye week next week to get healthy and we’re not sleeping on anyone this season.
“We’re ready for everybody.”
From the start, Hallandale trudged through the muddy field conditions better than the visiting Cougars. Hallandale’s defense held Coconut Creek to 124 total yards and only 5 rushing, shutting out the Cougars for the final three quarters. Among the highlights was a fumble recovery by defensive lineman Michael Clarke that led to a touchdown.
“This field was home [Friday] and it was like the 12th man for us,” Jones said. “The running game was the focal point [Friday] because we knew what we had to do.”
Hallandale took an early 7-0 lead when junior quarterback Tyler Huntley threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Hammond.
Coconut Creek quarterback Jhakari Harrison, who threw six touchdown passes last week against Dillard, answered moments later with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Trayvon Mullen.
Hallandale didn’t give Harrison much more leeway, sacking him four times and keeping Creek’s offense in check.
Huntley was effective throughout the game as he went 8-of-18 passing for 133 yards and threw another touchdown pass. His second went to Cooper, who also returned the opening kickoff of the second half 85 yards for a score.
Hallandale also established the running game early, amassing 184 yards on the ground. Taj McGowan led the effort with 105 yards on 10 carries and had a 13-yard, second-quarter touchdown that gave Hallandale a 21-7 lead.
HAL-Hammond 15 pass from Huntley (Lopez kick)
CC-Mullen 18 pass from Harrison (Rainford kick)
HAL-Cooper 22 pass from Huntley (Lopez kick)
HAL-McGowan 13 run (Lopez kick)
HAL-Cooper 85 kickoff return (kick blocked)
HAL-Lindo 3 run (kick failed)
Rushing (att-yds) -- CC: Harrison 8-(-15), Watkins 1-3, Young 2-6, Charles 6-11. HALL: Cooper 1-(-3), Huntley 2-1, Roberts 1-1, Nshaka 1-15, Holmes 4-22, Lindo 7-43, McGowan 10-105.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- CC: Young 1-1-0, 42, Harrison 7-19-0, 77. HALL: Huntley 8-18-0, 133.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- CC: Charles 1-9, Watkins 1-10, Mullen 3-26, Victor 2-58. HALL: Nshaka 1-12, Hammond 1-15, Cooper 1-22, Lindo 3-42, Holmes 2-42.