The inevitable ice bath for head coach Bryant Sepulvado and offensive coordinator Coy Brotherton came with just under a minute remaining in Thursday’s contest between Captain Shreve and Byrd.
Moments after the final gun sounded on the Gators’ rare 34-7 victory against Byrd, the first one in seven years, the ice lay in the turf at midfield getting crushed by the hooves of the thundering herd of Captain Shreve student-athletes gyrating in celebration mode.
But the thoughts of Sepulvado turned serious as he glanced skyward.
“Excuse me. I’m getting a little choked up right now, cause I know coach Lary is smiling about this one,” Sepulvado said.
Richard Lary was the Gators’ coach who hired Sepulvado and who passed away a couple of years ago after a heart attack. He picked up just one win against Byrd in his inaugural season at the helm in 2009. Thursday’s win was only the third for Shreve in 23 years and one of the trio was turned into a forfeit. It’s been that hard for the Captain Shreve football team to beat the Jackets.
But this time around, a young and injury depleted Byrd team made it easy for a Gators bunch now surprisingly 4-0 on the season. The Jackets fumbled 11 times, losing six of them, and nearly every lost ball was turned into a score by Gator quarterback Lucas Grubb, amazing running back Demarcus McCall or lofty wide receiver Cam Davis.
“There was a lot of hype going around the school. A lot of hype on social media. But we couldn’t underestimate them. We had to come out strong,” Grubb said. “We had to play it like it was just another game.”
But this wasn’t just another game. It’s the game of the year for both schools as signified by what appeared to be the largest crowd to watch a prep football game in Lee Hedges Stadium in quite some time. Missing 12 starters due to injury, the Jackets were left with some inexperienced folks in the fold. But Byrd coach Mike Suggs wasn’t making excuses.
“You have to give coach Sepulvado and his team a lot of credit. They lined up and outplayed us in all phases of the game,” Suggs said. “Their No. 1 (Davis) is a great athlete and we didn’t tackle him well. We’ll just have to go back to work this week and try to get better.”
Captain Shreve principal Ginger Gustavson said she was proclaiming Friday Green and Gold Day at the school, as if there will be anyone at school to celebrate with.
Hall, who finished with 121 tough yards, scored on a couple of short runs in the first half, but broke free for a 50-yarder in the closing minutes to put the finishing touches on the game. Most of the night, he found the going rough against a Byrd defense that was stout when it didn’t have its back against the wall. Shreve’s Gunnar Liles picked up the final fumble of the game for the Shreve defense.Captain Shreve’s 2007 forfeit to Byrd revisited
The gifts provided by the Jackets allowed the Gators to build a 20-7 halftime lead. Recovered fumbles by Shreve’s David Brown, Ashton Lacaze and Brandon Jones led to short fields that Grubb and company were able to take advantage of.
Shreve went 34 yards in four plays with Grubb hitting Davis in the corner of the end zone for a 24-yard score. On Byrd’s fourth drive of the game, Javien Wilson broke free on the left sideline, spun out of a couple of tackles, nearly went to the ground near midfield, before going 74 yards to give his team a 7-6 lead a minute into the second quarter.
The Gators followed with a 9-play, 50-yard drive midway through the second quarter with McCall scoring from 3 yards out. This time, Will Adcock hit the point after for a 13-7 lead. The Jackets fumbled the ball away on their ensuing series and the Gators needed just six plays to set McCall up for a 13-yard scoring run.
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