The pregame intensity was high between Coral Gables and Miami High on Friday night as it has often been during their longstanding football rivalry.
Once the game started, however, it was all Cavaliers.
Led by a suffocating defense that had 12 sacks and forced five turnovers, Coral Gables blanked its longtime nemesis 30-0 at Tropical Park to score a pivotal victory in its district that will likely vault the Cavaliers to the postseason.
“This is a salty defense and we’ve been playing pretty well all season,” Coral Gables coach Roger Pollard said. “Offensively, we still have a few things to work on. We have to play better football to beat the best.”
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Senior Gee Stanley led the Cavaliers’ swarming defense with a couple of sacks and a tackle for a safety in the fourth quarter. Stanley finished the game with an interception he returned 100 yards for a touchdown before the score was nullified by an illegal-block penalty.
“We had to keep our feet on the gas [Friday] and never hit the brakes,” Stanley said. “We had to play perfect assignment football and not give up any big plays.”
Robert Brown also had a couple of sacks as did sophomore Derrius Perryman, the younger brother of former Gables linebacker Denzel Perryman, now with the San Diego Chargers. Gilbert Frierson and Anthony Puntonet also had interceptions.
Senior defensive end Shakur Cooper played in his first game of the season after being injured during the first three games.
Coral Gables (4-0, 1-0 in District 14-8A) only won its district opener Friday. But with the Cavaliers heavily favored to win their next two against Miami Beach and Coral Park, the victory potentially sets up a district championship showdown once again with rival Columbus. The teams play Oct. 30 at Tropical Park.
Miami High (2-3, 2-2) has already lost to Columbus, which makes its playoff hopes slim at best.
“We’re trying to win this district and take every team one by one,” Stanley said. “Our focus is just to be 1-0 every week.”
Gables held Miami’s offense to 112 yards and minus-20 yards on the ground.
The Cavaliers had no trouble moving the ball.
Senior running back Amir Rasul finished with 114 yards on 16 carries and ran for a touchdown and senior quarterback Voshon Waiters threw a touchdown pass and ran for another.
The Cavaliers continued to show how explosive a weapon junior Kevin Romer can be.
After catching a 9-yard touchdown pass from Waiters in the first quarter, Romer later broke loose for a 67-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation to give Gables a 21-0 lead going into the half.
“We were coming off the bye week last week and we’re still dealing with some character issues, but this team can really be another special group if we keep working hard,” Pollard said.
CG-Romer 9 pass from Waiters (Riella kick)
CG-Rasul 2 run (Riella kick)
CG-Romer 67 run (Riella kick)
CG-Waiters 5 run (Riella kick)
CG-Safety. Young tackled in end zone
Rushing (att-yds) -- MH: Rodriguez 15-(-34), Mira 1-(-8), Gordon 2-(-2), Young 1-(-2), Jones 1-1, Turner 1-10, Theodore 1-15. CG: Waiters 8-(-29), Gulappo 1-0, Jones 2-9, Ford 5-26, Romer 2-76, Rasul 16-114.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- MH: Young 1-2-0, 24, Theodore 1-2-1, 32, Rodriguez 6-20-2, 76. CG: Romer 0-1-1, 0, Gulappo 0-1-0, 0, Waiters 6-12-0, 40.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- MH: Turner 1-5, Young 2-12, Sands 1-32, Theodore 2-34, Fairell 2-49. CG: Rasul 1-(-3), Clark-McNatte 1-5, Romer 3-19, Walker 1-19.