The scoreboard was stunning enough.
But no one was surprised more than the coach on the winning sideline.
West Florida High scored touchdowns each time it had the ball in the first half, then practically one time it didn’t when starting the second half, leading into a 56-7 victory Friday night against Catholic on homecoming night at the Crusaders’ Gorecki-LeBeau Stadium.
“Sometimes you just have a lot of breaks,” said West Florida coach Harry Lees. “Everything went our way. There is no way we’re that much better. Catholic is a good football team and tremendous program.
“So for us to do that … well, that’s a fluke.”
The Jaguars (4-2) coming off a bye week and eyeing a season finish of District 1-5A games, had three, 1-play touchdown drives in the game. They never punted until a running clock late in the third quarter.
Catholic (3-4) had entered the game on a three-game win streak, but struggled Friday night to make first downs.
“I have been challenging our guys to get better,” Lees said. “Our bye week could not have come at a better time. We’ve got a lot of guys banged up. We were able to heal. We had just a couple practices last week to get guys healed.
“To see our guys execute the way they did… you have been waiting for it and waiting for it… but just didn’t expect it (last night), because Catholic has played everybody close and has really been in every game. They were playing some really good teams tight. so we just expected a battle. I just have to compliment our guys.”
When Lees reviews the game video, there will be plenty to see. Every facet was superb last night. The Jaguars alternated quarterbacks on each possession and seniors Erick Antoine and Cody Smith made big plays.
They had defenders breaking up long passes. They showed their dangerous potential with junior Keyshawn Helton on punt returns. Senior kicker Taylor Lopez was routinely hitting the end zone on kickoffs.
“We weren’t so much talking abut Catholic; it was about us getting better,” Lees said. “Because the next three weeks we’re in district. It really is a playoff run.
“That’s what we have been gearing for. This is a great game to tune up for that.”
The Jaguars most extended touchdown drive was their game-opening one.
They went 12 plays, 66 yards and finished with Marquise Ross rushing in from the 4. The only blemish was missing the extra point. But from that point, West Florida was virtually error free.
Damond Johnson (38 yards) and Helton (58 yards) caught big play touchdown passes to start extending the lead, followed by Helton’s 57-yard punt return for a score just eight seconds into the second quarter.
Two more touchdown passes followed in the first half. Malik Jenkins had one, Johnson had the other.
“Our big playmakers are our outside guys,” Lees said. “We have a stable of real, hard-nosed running backs, but our outside guys are our playmakers and they’ve had far too few touches.
“So that was really the mindset going in. We want to get those guys the ball.”
West Florida led 49-0 at halftime. The second half started with Catholic making a mistake on kickoff, not picking up the ball and thinking it had hit the end zone line. West Florida recovered at the 1 and scored on the next play.
The running clock to start the second half sped the game in a desired way.
“(Catholic) Coach (Greg) Seibert and I were talking… we didn’t want any injuries,” Lees said. “If they would have let us play with flags, we would have played with flags.
“When it comes to (district) games we want to be healthy so hopefully both sides are healthy going into next week. “I can’t tell you how proud I am”
Catholic had a couple moments. Senior A.J. Yates, who was part of the homecoming court at halftime, scored Catholic’s lone touchdown on a short pass from Garrett Foley.
The other big highlight was Mr. Robert Burke, class of 1941, which was Catholic High’s first class 75 years ago. He crowned the homecoming king and queen last night. And, what’s more, he still teaches at the school.
A special part of the night.