Gulf Shores qualifies for first state championship with 45-0 win over Eufaula at home

Dolphin defensive starters have yet to allow postseason points, Wilson sets single-game rushing record

Sports Editor
Posted 12/2/23

GULF SHORES — Junior running back Kolin Wilson set a single-game rushing record with 281 yards as part of a five-touchdown effort that complemented Gulf Shores’ fifth defensive shutout of …

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Gulf Shores qualifies for first state championship with 45-0 win over Eufaula at home

Dolphin defensive starters have yet to allow postseason points, Wilson sets single-game rushing record


GULF SHORES — Junior running back Kolin Wilson set a single-game rushing record with 281 yards as part of a five-touchdown effort that complemented Gulf Shores’ fifth defensive shutout of the season which clinched a trip to the program’s first state championship with a 45-0 win over Eufaula.

When Mark Hudspeth accepted the Dolphins’ head football coaching position before the 2021 season, he told superintendent Matt Akin: “Trust me. I’ve got a map to get us there.”

Three seasons later, that map has a destination of Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium where the Gulf Shores Dolphins (14-0) will square off with the defending champion Ramsay Rams (12-2) for the Class 5A State Championship next Thursday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m.

“We just kept working for three years, improving every day but putting in a lot of work,” Hudspeth said. “These kids do a lot, I think we ask more of them than probably most places do but it’s paid off and now they’ve got a chance to go bring a Blue Map home to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Back to the beach.”

Dolphin defense sets the tone early with goal-line stands

The Dolphins nearly didn’t get the opportunity to play for the championship after it looked like Eufaula was going to stake claim to an early lead. A muffed punt left the Tigers two yards away from the Gulf Shores end zone but three running plays lost two yards and a 22-yard field goal was pushed wide five and a half minutes into the game.

“They’ve got the momentum there for the most part,” Hudspeth said. “They were fixing to score and really jump out with the lead and the momentum so for us to get the stop and then take it the distance and score it stole the momentum right back.”

The Dolphins came up with another goal-line stand in the second quarter where an offsides on a field-goal attempt brought the Tiger offense back onto the field only for the hosts to turn them away once again.

Average point allowance drops below 9

Sophomore linebacker Landon Everett tied for the team lead with 9 tackles and said he had a great view of the defensive line’s effort in the backfield. Senior linebacker Isaiah Hammac also logged 9 tackles and classmate Jordan Watson recorded 2 sacks.

“We’ve got a good goal-line package, we have a five-man bear front,” Everett said. “We had the entire D-Line pressuring the back so it’s easy to play coverage when you have a D-Line that’s affecting the quarterback every single play.”

With Gulf Shores’ fifth shutout of the season, the defensive unit improved to an average point allowance of 8.9 points per game. In the four playoff games so far, Dolphin first-teamers have kept all opponents out of the end zone.

“The defensive starters haven’t allowed a point in the postseason,” Hudspeth said. “And even our twos didn’t give up a point tonight so a total shutout, just a great effort by everybody.”

Wilson sets single-season record at 1,928 rushing yards

After he broke out of the gates and recorded the program’s longest play from scrimmage with a 99-yard touchdown rush in the Dolphins’ season opener, Wilson has now overtaken the program record for most rushing yards in a single season with 1,928.

Friday night on a slick field, the running back credited the work of his offensive linemen which helped lead to 281 rushing yards on 20 carries with 5 touchdowns. It marked Wilson’s second game of the season with more than 200 yards and his 12th with at least 100 yards.

“It was a little slippery but when the O-Line is pancaking the defense, there’s always big holes to run through,” Wilson said. “They’ve been working hard all summer and all fall camp so I was proud of them tonight to see how far they’ve come since the beginning of the season.”

With another 118 rushing yards on 11 carries and a touchdown from senior Ronnie Royal, the Gulf Shores head coach couldn’t help but be pleased with the efforts in the trenches.

“For our offense to rush for 458 yards tonight, that’s insane,” Hudspeth said. “Again, credit to the offensive line where we were able to run it basically up the middle all night, we didn’t get the ball on the outside a lot.”

Wilson nearly hit the 200-yard mark on his touchdown rushes alone. He scored from 27 yards out in the first quarter, registered 74- and 46-yard touchdown runs in the second quarter, added another 27-yard scoring rush in the third quarter and finished things off with a 1-yard touchdown to cash in on Everett’s fourth-quarter interception.

Royal reflects on turnaround

The Dolphins can keep on running to the home of the Alabama Crimson Tide but just a few short years ago, that still would have been a dream for Gulf Shores football players. In the moments after the semifinal victory, Royal reviewed the journey it had been from 6-4 and no postseason to now 14-0 and championship-bound.

“My first year I knew Gulf Shores was struggling a little bit and I just had to stick it out and be a leader and try to turn this program around,” Royal said. “Obviously I had help, it wasn’t just me but I knew to stick it out and I knew we were going to be a better team.”

While he acknowledged he played his final game at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium, the NC State commit knows there’s still more work to be done.

“It’s a blessing to play on our home turf and right before the championship too so we just had a good feeling but this is the last time playing on our home turf,” Royal said. “This is crazy, you don’t get a lot of fourth-round games where it’s a shutout and you really don’t score 45 points a lot so I know what we can do and if we lock in and stay on pace we can do a lot more.”

Dolphins hoist plaque on home field

With that, Gulf Shores was presented with its first semifinal champion plaque and the celebration was on.

“You put in a lot of work as coaches in this business for moments like that and that was worth all that work,” Hudspeth said.

“First time holding (a semifinal champion plaque) so I was soaking it in, but we had to pass it around,” Royal said. “We’ll be putting it in our trophy case so that was amazing.”

Up next

With now one less day in their week of preparation, the Gulf Shores Dolphins were set to get back to work on Sunday to get things in place for a championship bout with the Ramsay Rams who took down Guntersville 35-14 to earn a repeat trip to the title match.

“Sunday is our Monday with us playing on Thursday so everything’s backed up,” Hudspeth said. “Our preparation will be no different than any other week. We’re in a good routine now, our kids are working hard and believe in what we’re going so we’re going to keep doing what we do and we’ll have a chance to go play well.”

Even though it will be the first state championship trip for almost everyone on the roster, Hudspeth said the mentality remains the same

“We’re excited to go but we’ve got a lot of unfinished business. We’re not going to compete,” Hudspeth said. “We’re going to try to obviously win this game but we’re playing against the defending state champions so that’s going to be a huge challenge.”

Money quotes

“It was a great win in front of a big crowd, seeing the city rally behind us this year has been a great feeling,” Wilson said. “Hopefully we can go up there and get the job done and bring it back.”

“God gave me the opportunity to do this,” Everett said.

“It feels great. A once in a lifetime thing, especially if you’re a senior. It’s my first time going too so I feel great, looking forward to a great game against Ramsay,” Royal said.

“I’m just proud of these coaches, players, fans, administration, community; this was a community win,” Hudspeth said. “Especially when you win your ninth home game of the year, who plays nine home games?”