Prior to the West Deptford High School football team’s game against Collingswood, head coach Clyde Folsom challenged his team to find its identity on defense.
The Eagles rolled through Colonial Conference opponents this season, but there were still areas that could be tightened up.
After Friday night’s performance, it’s safe to say that the Eagles’ defense answered the call.
West Deptford didn’t allow a first down until late in the fourth quarter, and dominated the ground game in a 64-6 win over Collingswood.
Gerald Owens and Connor Smith led the offense's attack, scoring three touchdowns each, while the Eagles defense held the Panthers’ to negative yards total offense for three quarters.
“Coach told us we didn’t identify who we are as a defense yet and tonight we thought we came out here and did it," said Owens. "We wanted the goose egg, but we can’t be mad at this one.”
The only score the Eagles allowed came after the Panthers recovered a fumble and returned it to the West Deptford 4-yard line early in the third quarter.
“I think we made a big step forward today, and hopefully we can ride on that and keep it going into these next few games and into the playoffs,” said Smith.
West Deptford scored a touchdown on all five of its first-half possessions, with Owens scoring the first three on plunges of 5, 9 and 8 yards. Quarterback Alex Hilbmann connected with receiver Shai Mumford on a 9-yard fade pattern and Smith added an 8-yard score prior to the half. Smith scored twice more in the second session—on runs of 24 and 37 yards—and the JV took care of the rest.
Smith said the team never focused on how the Panthers (2-5) were playing entering the contest, instead focusing on what they needed to do to be a better football team.
“We just came out with the mentality of not really worrying about who the opponent was, we jest had to get the job done,” said Smith. “We treated it like a business trip and come out, have fun and do what we have to do.”
It was certainly fun for the Eagles, who improved to 7-0.
“We were told to come out here, play hard and have fun,” said Owens, “That’s what football is all about, having fun. We played as a family.”
West Deptford has a showdown with Haddonfield scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. The Bulldawgs are not playing at the same level they have the previous two seasons, but will certainly be pumped up to avenge last season’s loss to the Eagles in the Group 2 finals.
Smith said he and his teammates are ready for the challenge, while noting there is still room for improvement.
“We just have to perfect the little things,” said Smith. “We have to get better at the small stuff every week.”
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