His first two rushing performances made Gulf Breeze High’s Tyler Dittmer his own worst critic.
“I really was just kinda mediocre,” he said.
He was memorable Friday night.
Dittmer, a sophomore with his football future ahead of him, exploded for 162 yards and three touchdowns — two of those highlight reel variety — as the Dolphins overpowered Northview 42-0 at Dolphin Stadium.
“It felt good to finally break out and show a little bit of what I’ve got,” Dittmer said. “I’ve been working so hard this offseason, then all summer and it just felt good to finally prove myself.”
On the first play of the second quarter, Dittmer broke several tackles, bounced off the line of scrimmage and broke free for a 48-yard run that he can savor the rest of his prep career.
With his rushing to compliment the senior combo of quarterback Tyler Phelps and receiver Tristan Covell, the Dolphins blew open the game midway through the third quarter to trigger a running clock the rest of the game.
The performance has Gulf Breeze now 3-0 heading into next Friday’s game against area giant Pine Forest. It’s hard to find anyone who remembers the last time the Dolphins started a season 3-0.
“Me, neither,” said Gulf Breeze first-year coach Bobby Clayton. “It’s the same thing I told our kids, I don’t know the last time Gulf Breeze has been 3-0 and I don’t know the last time we have shut out anyone. That was our goal in the second half. Focus on what we need to do and let’s play hard and focus.”
The Dolphins did just that. Phelps finished with 160 yards passing and laid in a few perfect aerials to Covall, who caught two TD passes and had 134 yards in receptions..
Northview (1-2), playing way up in classification and roster depth, had some early moments in the game to build upon. On the game’s first series, quarterback Luke Ward had the Chiefs marching deep into Dolphins’ territory before junior cornerback Walter Yates picked off a pass and went the other way.
He was stopped at the Northview 25. Several plays later, another sophomore running back, Carl Taylor bulled in from the 2 for the game’s first touchdown.
“Our defense set the tone for us right there, for sure,” Clayton said. “That was one of those bend-but-don’t-break moments. They had some big plays, then Yates stepped in front of one and got a big return, put us in good field position offensively and we were able to get rolling.”
The next series, Ward just missed a wide open Jarius Moorer, who would have tied the game if the pass connected. But Ward had everyone’s respect with his two-way performance. He’s also a defensive back.
“He is a great athlete,” said Dittmer, who broke a tackle attempt by Ward on a touchdown run. “I don’t think that guy left the field once the entire game. What a great player.”
Said Clayton: “The adjustments we made on defense were to contain (Ward). He is a phenomenal athlete.”
Phelps and Covell produced the next two Dolphins touchdowns before halftime. Phelps, a left-handed thrower, is a high honor student whose college future has broadened with potential of Ivy League or other high academic schools with football programs.
“I have said it week in and week out… he is a tremendous quarterback,” Clayton said. “He is a huge leader for us, most importantly. As he gets in rhythm, we get in rhythm offensively. I am extremely proud of of what he has done so far.”
For Clayton, who took over in the spring and is trying to get Gulf Breeze football into a consistent winner, this season’s start has evolved as he hoped. The Dolphins already have a great band, parental support, a wonderful stadium and other factors to spur success.
Last night, Gulf Breeze honored its 1986 team that won a district title under coach Sylvan Ladner. It’s one of two district crowns in school history.
“The community is behind these kids 100 percent,” Clayton said. “The student body….wow, I couldn’t be more excited about them. They pack the stadium and go crazy. It is just a wonderful atmosphere in Gulf Breeze for high school football.”
In the third quarter, Dittmer finished things off with a 2-yard run on 4th-and-goal with 8:10 left, then a 50-yard burst with 1:05 left and the clock running.
“I challenged Tyler all week. I said this is a good week for you to get a lot of carries and show what you’re capable of doing,” Clayton said. “He has been doing that all spring. He did it once fall camp started and hes been running like that this season.
“He broke several tackles at the line of scrimmage. But when he runs, he’s about two-and-a-half feet off the ground and all that’s coming at you is shoulder pads. He runs low to the ground, runs hard and he gives our defense fits all the time.”
Right now, Gulf Breeze is giving opponents fits all the time.
AT GULF BREEZE
GULF BREEZE 42, NORTHVIEW 0
GB–Carl Taylor 2-yard run (Spencer Wirth kick),7:51
GB–Tyler Dittmer 48 run (Wirth kick), 11:47
GB–Tristan Covell 63 yard pass from Tyler Phelps, (Wirth kick), 4:36.
GB — Covell 16 pass from Phelps (Wirth kick), 0:57
GB–Dittmer 2 run (Wirth kick), 8:10.
GB–Dittmer 50 run, (Wirth kick), 1:05.