DAPHNE — It was a tale of two halves as the Spanish Fort Toros erased a 27-7 halftime deficit to the Daphne Trojans behind three touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Aaden Shamburger and …
DAPHNE — It was a tale of two halves as the Spanish Fort Toros erased a 27-7 halftime deficit to the Daphne Trojans behind three touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Aaden Shamburger and a second-half shutout from the defense to earn a 35-27 win Friday night at Jubilee Stadium.
Spanish Fort head football coach Chase Smith asked a simple question to his team during the halftime intermission.
“I didn’t know that team. I didn’t recognize that team that was playing, and they didn’t either. We had stupid penalties and two turnovers, you can’t beat anybody that way,” Smith said after the game. “We just looked at each other and said, ‘Is this who we want to be.’ And that was my exact message, ‘Is this who you want to be?’”
The Toros took that challenge personally and played with different energy in the third and fourth quarters, led by Shamburger at quarterback and senior Cole McConathy, a Louisville commit, at defensive end.
“Just come out here and do what we do,” Shamburger said. “In the first half we struggled a little bit, but Coach Smith gave us a little pep talk and we came out here and did what we do best.”
“That wasn’t us as a defense, we worked all summer where we know we’re better than that,” McConathy said. “The main thing was just that we weren’t playing as one and we weren’t getting the calls in. That just wasn’t us in the first half so we came out and brought some energy to it and played our football.”
Shamburger sheds his shell
Spanish Fort’s brand of football allowed Shamburger to go out in the second half and sling it around to his receivers where he tried to simply dissect the looks provided by the Daphne defense.
“I was seeing that they were leaving a lot of windows open. I was just taking advantage of their corners playing really deep on our best players,” Shamburger said.
The signal-caller threw two touchdown passes to sophomore classmate Justin Bonner (42 and 18 yards) with another to junior Nehemiah Hixon (31 yards) — on fourth down — sandwiched in between. Seniors Gabe Myers and Chandler Wilson also came down with big catches from Shamburger.
His second scoring connection with Bonner gave the Toros a one-point lead with only 9:36 remaining in regulation. Senior Drew Williamson (1 yard) and junior Sawyer Wilson (10 yards) added rushing touchdowns.
“He grew up in front of our eyes,” Smith said of Shamburger. “He’s a leader, he didn’t play like a sophomore. He could have ducked his head, but he’s a leader and he grew up tonight in front of everybody, big time. I’m proud of him”
With still two more high school seasons left, McConathy hoped to see Shamburger at the next level soon enough.
“That kid, the sky’s the limit for him. I want to see him play big-time college football,” McConathy said.
McConathy punctuates second-half shutout with sack-fumble
While the Spanish Fort offense took care of business, so too did the Toro defense which produced five punts, including a trio of three-and-outs, and two fumble recoveries in the second half. Comparatively, Daphne scored on all four of its first-half possessions.
“We’re not calling anything else. We’re going to call our base defense and you’re either going to win the game or you’re not,” Smith said of the defensive changes in the second half. “Real simple.”
From there, McConathy took over and delivered the knockout blow with only 1:14 left in regulation. Not only did he come off the edge for a sack, but he also jarred the ball loose for Spanish Fort to recover and kneel out the remaining time.
“Very big, I mean the takeaways that we had in the second half just shut them down,” McConathy said of the momentum generated by the defense.
“Just played lights out in the second half to stop the run and bring pressure,” Smith said of McConathy. “Can’t say enough about him and what they did defensively in the second half.”
Trojans start hot in new uniforms
The Toros didn’t have many answers to stop the Daphne offense in the first half as junior quarterback Jamar Malone threw touchdown passes to junior RJ Dailey (13 yards) and senior Hayden McLaurin (6 yards). Malone added a 27-yard rushing touchdown and was joined in running to pay dirt by senior Nick Clark (27 yards), Daphne’s Homecoming King.
The Trojans also debuted all-black alternate uniforms for their homecoming contest.
Spanish Fort improved to 4-2 overall and 10-2 in the all-time series against the Daphne Trojans. The Toros are scheduled to return home and resume play within Class 6A Region 1 against the St. Paul’s Saints next Friday.
Daphne fell to 4-3 overall with another rivalry game coming up against the Fairhope Pirates on the road on Oct. 13 following an open week.
“I had never played them before, but it feels good to win and beat somebody on their homecoming,” Shamburger said. “I just love all my teammates and I love my O-Line.”
“(Our offense) won us the game. This team is truly a brotherhood and they stepped up when we needed them the most,” McConathy said. “I thought we improved a lot as a team, just as a brotherhood and as one. I felt us come together in the second half and the whole community came out here, it felt truly electric out here to play ball.”
“It’s not big for my blood pressure but we found out a lot about ourselves tonight and I think this is going to be really good for us moving forward back into region play,” Smith said of the size of Friday’s win. “I think we all found out who we are tonight and what we’re capable of. We’re going to fix the mistakes and we’re going to ride on the really big accomplishments that we made in that second half.”
OTHER WEEK 6 FINALS
No. 2 Gulf Shores 37, Murphy 14 (Thursday, 9/28)
Alma-Bryant 34, Robertsdale 6
Elberta 43, Northview (FL) 26
McGill-Toolen 35, St. Michael 31
No. 4 MGM 45, Baldwin County 14
No. 2 Mobile Christian 39, Orange Beach 6
No. 1 Saraland 70, Foley 20