SPANISH FORT, Ala.—The Spanish Fort Toros capitalized early on visiting Gulf Shores’ mistakes and kept up the pressure building a 35-0 lead at the half. The Toros then scored twice before the Dolphins prevented the shutout with a late score to …
SPANISH FORT, Ala.—The Spanish Fort Toros capitalized early on visiting Gulf Shores’ mistakes and kept up the pressure building a 35-0 lead at the half. The Toros then scored twice before the Dolphins prevented the shutout with a late score to make it a 49-7, 5A Region 1 win for the defending 5A state champs on The Hill Friday night.
GSHS miscues early and late padded the margin as three-of-four Dolphin fumbles resulted in 21 of the Toros’ total points.
"We executed and did the things that we had to do to win," said Spanish Fort coach Mark Freeman. "We had a real good night. The kids played hard and that's all that you can ask them to do. Special teams came through for us tonight, Gulf Shores had some turnovers that hurt them a little bit. Trey Shabel and Mike Howard ran hard for us tonight. Offense and defense played real aggressive the whole game.”
Gulf Shores coach Ben Blackmon said this 2013 Spanish Fort team looked as good if not better than last year.
“They are definitely looking like state-championship contenders again this year,” he said. “They are at least as good, maybe better than last year. We told our kids what we thought we could do and what we thought we couldn't do against a very good Spanish Fort team. We got behind early and Spanish Fort is too good a team. That’s one of the things not to do. You can't turn the ball over against a good team because they capitalize on your mistakes. We gave them probably 28 points off turnovers in the game."
SF sophomore quarterback Tyler Johnston scored on a run up the middle from six yards out to cap the first SF possession. Johnston’s younger brother Thomas set up the 39-yard opening drive after recovering a GS fumble. Senior Toro kicker Alexander Theodore hit the first of his seven point-after kicks with 8:17 left on the first-quarter clock and SF led 7-0. Toro running back Trey Shabel carried three times for 24 yards and Mike Howard for nine on the series to help set up the first TD.
With 13.2 seconds left in the first period, the Toros scored again on a six-yard run by Howard to make it 14-0. That drive started at the SF 20. In the second quarter, Sammy Harris caught a Johnston pass in traffic for an eight-yard touchdown 26 seconds into the period to cap an 81-yard drive. That score was set up by two big catches by Cameron Harrison from Johnston. John Wesley Williamson then scored off a GS’ fumble for a 15-yard scoop-and-score TD and Howard scored his second rushing TD from the five for a 35-0 score with 2:34 to go in the half.
Spanish Fort took the second-half kickoff and started that series from their own 30. Shabel then ran almost every play from scrimmage to finish the 70-yard march with a four-yard touchdown capper to make it 42-0. He finished with 96 yards on 11 carries.
Special teams then notched the final Toro TD when Davoris Thomas recovered a fumbled punt reception at the GS 27 and ran it back for the final SF score.
Dolphin freshman Holden Wilson got the Gulf Shores TD on a seven-yard run with 5:42 left in the game to cap a 59-yard drive. Clay Moore kicked the PAT.
Freeman, who coached the Dolphins before coming to Spanish Fort, spoke with and hugged several GSHS players after the game.
"Gulf Shores always fights," he said. "Those kids always play hard. They're just gritty kids. Coach Blackmon does a good job down there."
Coming off a big 35-34 region win over Faith Academy last week, Blackmon said he was proud of his team for playing as hard as they could through the whole game.
"We did that against Faith last week and that was a big win for us. Tonight we played hard, but made too many mistakes. The kids kept playing. The resiliency of this team—that's something that I’m proud of.
“I don’t know if the kids realize it but this game will help us get ready for Saint Paul’s next week. We will be a better team for playing this game with the fight that we had and the way we didn’t quit. If we can cut out the mistakes, and learn from them, we will give ourselves a good shot at playing better next week and after.”
Next week, the Dolphins (2-1, 1-1) will host St. Paul's Episcopal while the Toros (3-0, 2-0) will host Faith on The Hill. Each of those 5A Region 1 contests will kick off Friday at 7 p.m.
Freeman said no team in Class 5A Region 1 can be taken for granted.
"Faith Academy has a lot of good athletes and they do a good job. For our part, every week, we just need to play our game and adjust to what our opponent does.”