Six weeks into the high school football season, Merritt Island High is exactly where it needs to be.
With a 25-0 win over Rockledge on Friday, the Mustangs are 2-0 in Class 5A, District 13 play and heading into a bye week before another key game, this time against Astronaut.
The War Eagles also won on Friday, so when the two play in 13 days, the winner will emerge in complete control of District 13.
Merritt Island, now 5-1 overall, will take one of Brevard County’s best defenses into that game, and nobody can testify to that any better than Raiders quarterback Alex Adler. Adler and his receivers were blanketed all night such that the Rockledge passing game had nowhere to go.
Rockledge further complicated its own task by inflicting its own wounds, two penalties and a fumble leading to the first 18 points by the hosts.
The Rockledge passing game produced just 53 yards, two fewer than the Mustangs have allowed on average this season.
“We had a good gameplan going in,” defensive back Joey Batch said. “We switched it up. We would go man and then go Cover 2. We didn’t want to go into one coverage and let them check out of anything.”
With few open receivers, the Mustangs pass rush had time to do its job, though it didn’t need much. Adler almost never had a pocket from which to throw, and on the first play of the second half, a fumble in the backfield resulted in a defensive touchdown.
Ty Schwab picked up the ball and ran 18 yards for an 18-0 lead that virtually snuffed any hope of a Raiders comeback.
“Our defensive line was making (Adler) step up in the pocket, and we had a lot of blitz calls,” Schwab said. “We had more than usual. The line did a great job.”
It was the second individual highlight of the night for Schwab, who intercepted a pass to quickly end the Raiders’ first possession of the game.
Two penalties helped Merritt Island build an 11-0 halftime lead. Rockledge stuffed the Mustangs on their first possession, but an illegal substitution penalty on fourth down extended the drive.
On the next play, Taquan Kelly broke off a 67-yard touchdown run.
Early in the second quarter, a personal foul moved the Mustangs into Rockledge territory, and Dylan Barnas ended the drive with a 41-yard field goal.
With 4:01 to play, Josh Studstill scored the final points when left open over the middle.
He took a pass from Nick Smith and went 68 yards.