The Cougars football team scored a big win on the shoulders of its special teams and defense, holding down a Grizzlies offense that had scored 70 points in its first two games of the season.
"Right now we've been working on us more than anything else and I think we're really trying to develop a physical style," SSHS coach Scott Hare said after the game, "And I think the last couple of weeks we've brought that. I think obviously Galena is a great offense, 70 points in the first two weeks. They're going to get theirs. When we need to be physical I thought we were and that translated into what we were doing on the field."
After a scoreless first quarter, Spanish Springs took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Dominic Smith. Eight minutes later, Smith again scored a running touchdown, this one from just two yards out giving the Cougars a 14-0 lead.
"When you jump out to the lead, you're not pressing because you're not as worried about making a mistake or two," Hare said after the game, comparing the effect Friday's early lead had on his team to the lead Carson had over his Cougars team in the opening week of the season.
Then, with 28 seconds left in the first half, Galena quarterback Beau Bickel was being flushed out of the pocket when he threw up what seemed like a desperation pass to avoid a sack. Somehow, senior Garrett Shutt came down with the ball in the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown score. The extra point cut the Spanish Springs lead in half.
Though Hare said his team's sideline didn't get down after the Grizzlies score, it was certainly picked up when Jalen Dixon returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, sending the Cougars into halftime with a comfortable 21-7 lead.
In the third quarter, the Grizzlies and Cougars exchanged touchdowns. Senior Eric Howsley ran five yards into the end zone two minutes into the half, only to be answered a minute later by a 63-yard breakaway run by Spanish Springs quarterback Nick Lemmon.
With 1:51 left in the third quarter, Spanish Springs special teams stepped up once again when Smith sacked Bickel at the Grizzlies 44-yard line, knocking the football loose. Senior Erwin Soto then scooped the ball up and ran it to the end zone. An extra point later, the Cougars maintained their lead by a 35-14 score.
The Grizzlies scored one more touchdown only to have the extra point attempt blocked. The Cougars also scored once more, on a 35-yard pass from Lemmon to Thai Ivery, for the final 42-20 score.
Next week the Cougars begin league play against Reno, a team that embarrassed Spanish Springs last year by ending the team's 4-0 start. This time, Spanish Springs will face Reno with one loss and hopefully a little wiser from coming in with the first loss already out of the way.
"I have no problem that Carson beat us whatsoever," Hare said, referring to the week one loss. "It taught us a lesson early on. It wasn't a very fun Friday but ultimately two weeks after that game I'm not going to say I'm happy we lost but I'm happy with the lessons we learned from the loss."