On the first play of Friday’s playoff game, Starmount’s Will Simpson took a handoff and tried sprinting around the left side of his offensive line.
Swain High’s Spencer McCoy broke through the Rams’ blockers and seized the opportunity to make a statement on behalf of his Maroon Devils teammates.
He grabbed Simpson behind the line of scrimmage and knocked him to the hard, cold turf of Boyce Deitz Field.
Almost nothing came easy for the visiting Rams, who were powerless to slow Swain’s postseason march.
Raymius Smith and Blake Wright hit major yardage milestones while leading the Maroon Devils to a 49-14 rout and a spot in next week’s 1-AA Western Regional final. Wright (169 yards, 3 touchdowns) and McCoy (171 yards, two scores) benefited from a dominating performance by the Devils’ offensive line.
“That first play set the tone for the whole game; a tackle for a loss is a great way to start,” said McCoy, who had an interception and led Swain with 10 tackles. “And our offensive line was great. We can’t thank them enough. They don’t get much credit. I want to emphasize they deserve way more credit than they get.”
At halftime, Swain had 306 yards to Starmount’s 37. The Rams didn’t get a first down until the second quarter.
“(Starmount’s) whole thing was the speed sweep,” Swain coach Neil Blankenship said. “We saw it all week on film, and our kids did a great job of preparing for it. That’s why we do what we do as coaches. It’s to see our kids do what they did tonight. We were sound on both sides of the ball.”
Smith completed his first eight passes and finished with 126 passing yards. He broke the 6,000-yard career passing mark on his 49-yard scoring strike to Jordan Cody early in the second quarter. Earlier, he’d hit Dakota Brown on a 22-yard touchdown. Smith didn’t have to throw a pass after halftime as Swain advanced to play at West Montgomery next week.
“We have to take it game by game,” Swain offensive lineman Zach Weeks said. “We have to practice twice as hard now.”
Wright reached the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on a 54-yard scoring spring shortly before halftime — his second touchdown of the half.
Starmount got its only first-half score after a fourth-down snap sailed over Swain punter Nelson Pinto’s head. Pinto picked it up but had the ball immediately stripped, and Starmount recovered inside the Devils’ 5-yard line.
Simpson scored two plays later on a 2-yard run, but Swain’s defense yielded little else. The Rams had averaged 274 rushing yards per game but had just 29 at halftime. After Swain pulled its starters, Starmount added a late score and bolstered its total yardage to 193. Swain had 496.
“We were outmanned on the offensive and defensive line,” Starmount coach Scott Johnson said. “That was the game.”