In more ways than one, the victory was a benchmark for the Jaguars. It marked the first time this season the defense met nine of its 10 weekly goals, the lone missed mark coming in the defensive points scored category. Besides pitching its second shutout of the season, the Jags defense limited ELHS to 33 yards of total offense - including minus two rushing.
On the other side of the football - an area Spalding has struggled in at time this season - the Jags scored a number of season firsts as they enjoyed their largest output of the season, 28 points. Firsts included topping the 225-yard mark rushing, not turning the ball over for the first time and scoring 24 or more points.
The SHS offense’s previous high was 23 points in the opener. In the three games that followed Spalding never topped the 17-point mark.
Nonetheless, everyone, on both sides of the ball, is enjoying the unit’s newfound success.
“It’s good to score 28 points,” said second-year SHS defensive coordinator Dale Wiggins, whose defense is allowing the opposition an average of 4.8 points per game this season. “When we scored the second touchdown I started breathing a little easier.”
The only knock on Spalding was it only led 7-0 at the half against ELHS (0-5, 0-1).
Wiggins was quick to point out: “Eagle’s Landing has been competitive against everyone it has played through the first quarter into the half.”
Gilstrap still wants to see his team play better earlier in games.
“For some reason this football team doesn’t get to working on all cylinders until the second half,” he said. “We have to get that corrected, because to beat good football teams you have to play 48 minutes.”
Adjustment at the half made all the difference this past week. The Jags mounted two quick scoring drives in the third quarter and the better part of a third that reached the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Gilstrap attributed the late start, in part, to a false sense of security after the team scored on its opening drive of the game.
“The worst thing that could have probably happened to us happened to us,” said Gilstrap. “We took the ball the first time- we scored easy and after that we expected it to be easy, but it’s hard to turn that switch back on.”
The adjustments in the second half were less schematic and more mental.
“Their weren’t any adjustments to make except in our attitudes about how we were playing,” Gilstrap said. “We did that after the first drive of the second half.”
Senior Bernard Goodrum was the catalyst who stepped up first, breaking free for a 25-yard tackle-breaking run to bring team to the ELHS 18 on its first scoring drive of the second half.
“He gave us a spark and got us going offensively,” said Gilstrap. “He broke six tackles on that run.”
Gilstrap wants to see his offense approach this week’s game against Ola with the same vigor.
Defensively, Spalding will face a very similar offense this week. An Ola Mustang squad that bases out of the Wing-T, spreads the field and prefers to throw the ball.
The biggest difference?
“They’re a better football team,” he said.
Last year Spalding blanked Ola 30-0 on the road.