Stifling defense and two-headed monster at quarterback propelled Dunham to a 32-0 victory in their first-week matchup against Woodlawn (6-5A).
The Tigers of District 8-2A got off to a slow start. They were shut down on the goal line on the first drive and ended the second with a punt.
But an unyielding Tigers defense helped the offense break through. The Tigers started their next three drives in their opponents’ half of the field and capped off march with a touchdown.
They never looked back.
The Tigers finished the first half with a commanding 19-0 lead and from that point on the result of the game was all but certain.
Dunham coach Neil Weiner said his trio of linebackers set the tone for a dominant performance on defense.
“Nick Suire came out with a shoulder injury, but Matt Weiner got in there for him and played great — so did Cobin Leindecker,” Weiner said.
“Our defensive coaches just had a great game plan. It was like our guys knew most of the plays that were coming.”
The Tigers limited their opponents to four first downs in the game and — aside from two special teams miscues — kept the Panthers bottled up on their own half of the field.
The Tigers were led at quarterback by Stephen Stills and Anthony Safford. Both are seniors, but relatively inexperienced, Weiner said.
“Anthony’s brand new to the school — he transferred right before the season started,” Weiner said. “And Stephen’s never played quarterback in high school before so he’s new to the position as well. So I was proud of both of them.”
The pair alternated series throughout the game, helping the Tigers amass 251 yards of total offense as they wore down the outmatched Panthers defense.
Stills passed for 56 yards and three touchdowns. Safford passed for 58 yards and accumulated 24 yards rushing with two touchdowns.
Senior running back Nick Suire led the Tigers rushing attack, gaining 52 yards before leaving the game in the first half with a shoulder injury.
Kalante Wilson added 46 yards.
The Panthers turned the ball over four times and accumulated more penalty yards than yards from scrimmage.
Marcus Randall, a former LSU quarterback and Woodlawn’s first-year coach, said those “mental mistakes” derailed his team.
“You can put that on a lot of different things right now,” Randall said of the penalties. “We’ve got a lot of young guys playing. We ask them to do big things out there but (the penalties) are a thing you can’t have when you’re trying to be successful at football.”
The Panthers will try to get back on track next week against Live Oak of District 4-5A.
Dunham will look to build on its momentum next week against Thrive Academy of 6-1A.