In high school football, defense may win championships but the offense has to show up too.
With its defense doing all of the heavy lifting for three-and-a-half quarters of Friday’s District 6A-11 showdown with visiting Fort Myers, the South Fort Myers offense sprung to life thanks to a pair of unheralded players.
Subbing for injured senior quarterback Andrew Dalidonis, who sat out with a cervical neck strain, reserve sophomore Keith Smith hit senior wide receiver Eddie Collins with a short pass and Collins did the rest, racing through the Green Wave secondary for a 41-yard touchdown that propelled the Wolfpack to a 14-3 win.
“Keith threw a great ball; I didn’t even have to move,” Collins said. “I just turned it up and was gone.”
The touchdown answered Fort Myers lone score of the game, a 20-yard field goal by kicker Steve Brosy that came with 6:48 left in the game.
The drive that produced the game’s first points was a snapshot of the mishaps that plagued both teams at time Friday. Fort Myers (5-2, 1-2) converted a key fourth-and-1 at its own 43 to keep the march alive. A first-and-goal at the South 9 turned into a fourth-and-goal at the 20 after a holding penalty and two negative runs by senior quarterback T.J. Douglas.
The Wolfpack (7-0, 4-0) appeared to escape unscathed when Brosy narrowly missed a 37-yard attempt but South was whistled for roughing him, giving the Green Wave another first-and-goal from the 10. A facemask penalty on the Wolfpack moved the ball to the 5 and Douglas ran it down to the 1. On third-and-goal, however, South senior linebacker Jack Kelly stuffed Fort Myers sophomore running back Terrance Moore for a 1-yard loss, forcing the field goal attempt.
Two plays into the Wolfpack’s ensuing drive, Smith found Collins for what proved to be the winning touchdown.
“Having to settle for three points there kind of took away the momentum even though we went ahead,” Green Wave coach Sam Sirianni Jr. said.
Fort Myers, which ran 66 offensive plays compared to just 37 for South, had multiple chances to get on the scoreboard in the first half, starting five separate drives in Wolfpack territory and moving inside the South 30 on three of them. However, all the Wave could muster was 44- and 37-yard field goal attempts, both of which they failed to convert.
Douglas, who terrorized the South defense in the Green Wave’s 35-28 overtime win last season, faced constant pressure when he tried to throw and narrow running lanes when he tucked the ball. The senior completed just 3 of 13 passes for 35 yards and was intercepted twice. He managed just 40 rushing yards on 20 carries, seven of which went for negative yards.
“We were able to control the line of scrimmage and keep him under control,” Wolfpack coach Grant Redhead said of Douglas. “The kids played their butts off all game. These are the types of games that coaches love to coach in and kids love to play in.”