Cardinal Gibbons coach Steve Wright said Friday night’s final 57-52 score against Gray’s Creek didn’t surprise him. But the way the game unfolded did.
“I never would have suspected that we’d lead that team 50-14 at the half,” Wright said. “Gray’s Creek had the best backfield that I’ve ever coached against. Our lead at the half was much more of a surprise than that they came back.”
Gray’s Creek’s Ken McDowell, among the state rushing leaders with close to 3,000 yards, ran for 254 yards against the Crusaders. He scored on runs of 80 and 10 yards and caught a 58-yard scoring pass from Joe Wallace to key Gray’s Creek rally.
“At the half, we tried to convince our players that the game wasn’t over,” Wright said. “But that’s tough when you’ve scored 50 points and you are talking to 16, 17, 18 year olds. As a coaching staff, we knew what Gray’s Creek was capable of.”
Wright said Gibbons was able to strike quickly in the first half, scoring on all seven of their possessions. He knew Gray’s Creek (8-4) would make adjustments at the half and attempt to get back into the game.
Gibbons tried to run the clock in the second half, attempting only four passes.
“We may have become too conservative,” Wright said. ““But at the half, the coaching staff decided that if we didn’t turn the ball over in the second half, we should win. That’s what happened.”
Gibbons quarterback Shawn Stankavage injured a knee in the second half and Wright said he didn’t know if Stankavage would be available for Friday’s second round game against Wilson Hunt. Stankavage has passed for 1,905 yards and 29 touchdowns and has rushed for 592 yards.
Wright is confident in backup Dante DiMaggio.
“We look at Shawn and Dante as 1A and 1B,” Wright said. “We feel like we have two starting quarterbacks. Our game plan will be the same regardless of which one starts.”
Hunt is 11-0 and has a 387 to 108 scoring advantage. It has allowed five touchdowns in the last six games. The Warriors defeated Gibbons 31-17 in the third round of the playoffs in 2011 en route to a 13-1 season.