RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Cardinal Gibbons hits the field Friday night for the second round of the high school football playoffs riding one of the biggest wins in the state. The Crusaders blasted Pine Forest, 49-7, last week for a win that was as impressive as it was lopsided.
“Boringly efficient was something that I was pleasantly pleased with,” said Cardinal Gibbons head coach Steven Wright after practice Thursday night. “It was fun to see us come out and, you know, we talk about getting out a fast start and to see our guys get out there and do just that was something that any head coach loves to see, but especially in a playoff game against the quality opponent.”
The Crusaders took the opening kickoff down the field to take the lead and never looked back. They scored early, often, and in every way imaginable. Putting up 49 is a remarkable feat considering Pine Forest held teams to just over a touchdown per game on average. By the numbers, the Trojans gave up 101 points during this seven-game spring season, and 49 were to Cardinal Gibbons.
The more impressive number, or lack thereof, is seven. Teams have a tendency to let up with such a huge lead. Gibbons maintained its playoff focus and save for one touchdown in the second quarter. Otherwise, the defense held the Trojans out of the end zone.
“We don’t necessarily have one guy that just stands out, but we have 11 that are playing as one and getting as many heads to the ball as we can and doing their job,” Wright said. “You know, we spend a lot of time around here talking about just take care of what you’re responsible for. Just do your job, and I know that’s a Bill Belichick type of thing to say, but at the end of the day, there’s so much truth in it. We preach that all year and our kids are certainly bought into it.”
Usually, teams are tested in the postseason, but the Crusaders clearly were not. The worry is they may take the next opponent lightly. It sets up the ultimate trap game situation. Win the first game big, get big-headed, slack off in practice, and before you know it you’re down a pair of scores and it’s too late. There’d be nothing left for seniors but to shake hands and pack for college and for the underclassmen to head back to the weight room with a “woulda’ coulda’ shoulda” story.
Not this bunch.
“It’s easy to keep the guys grounded. You know, Richmond (County) is always super talented. They’ve always got a number of college prospects, especially in the skill positions, but they have a couple on the offensive and defensive line, as well,” Wright said. “I think just knowing that you’re at that time in a season where you win and you move on or you lose and you turn in your equipment on Monday.
“There’s certainly an ample amount of motivation that’s present, I think, regardless of the opponent, but especially this week with Richmond coming to town.”
Cardinal Gibbons comes into the game a perfect 7-0. The Crusaders outscored opponents at a 6-1 clip. They held five of their opponents to a touchdown or less with the smallest margin of victory being a 13-point win over Leesville Road all the way back in Week 1.
Richmond County is the closest thing to a test the Crusaders will see so far this year, so what do they need to do to take down the Raiders? In a word, the basics.
“I think take care of the football offense and again be boringly efficient with the opportunities that we get,” Wright said. “Try and create some turnovers on defense and, you know, hopefully at the end of the day, we end up on the right side of the scoreboard.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Cardinal Gibbons.