Everywhere Smith and the Mustangs ran on the field at Mackay Stadium, the Raider defense was there to corral them. Damonte managed 260 yards total offense on the night, with Smith accounting for just 58 yards on 25 carries, including a mere five yards in the second half. While the standout running back had ran wild on the rest of the North to the tune of 2,024 yards on the ground (184.9 per game) and 26 touchdowns, the Blue and Gold broke the Mustang.
“They’re a good football team,” Damonte coach Shawn Dupris said of the Raiders. “Scheme wise, they did a good job of what they were going to do. We expected to see what they did, but they just beat us at the point of contact.”
Shedding blocks and constantly pestering the Mustangs in the back field, Reed forced three turnovers and held the Damonte offense, that had averaged over 25 points a game, to a field goal and a touchdown that came with 0:00 on the game clock en route to a 50-9 victory.
“This is what our defense has been doing all year,” Reed defensive captain Drew Bryant said. “It was just cool to do it this big in this game because I was with all of my brothers out there. It’s just great to defensively dominate out there and to just have this win. To be able to look to my left and my right and see all of my friends, guys that I grew up with. Playing with them and sharing this repeat was the most important thing. I love everybody on this team.”
In its second consecutive regional championship game, Reed shut down the opposing team’s main offensive weapon. Last season, the Raiders met Carson with the chore of stopping standout Senator running back Dylan Sawyers. In that contest, Reed pitched a shutout and held the all-state tailback to less than 100 yards for a 49-0 win. This time around, the Raiders bottled up the elusive Smith. Reed head coach Ernie Howren said the strong play of his defense comes down to two things.
“First off, we have a great defensive staff. Our defensive coaches just put together a great game plan,” Howren said. “And second, obviously, game-planning can’t work unless you have great kids. The kids just execute the game plan and fly around. They play their tails off every game. They understand what types of plays that the other team is going to be running and how to attack them. Then they just go out and get the job done.”