MSD varsity football team kicks off season on a high note against McArthur High School


Carolina Ochoa Lozano

Quarter back(11) Hunter Rose dodges while the MSD line backers tackle the McArthur Mustangs. Rose helped lead the team to their 29-20 victory.

Ryan Shimony, Sports Editor

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School varsity football team hosted their first game of the season against the McArthur Mustangs on Wednesday, Aug. 28. This was the first of 10 scheduled regular season games for the Eagles. This was an important game to build up the team’s confidence and shift their momentum in the right direction.

With many players entering from JV, this was the first regular-season varsity game for a significant number of the team. The Eagles lost a lot of players during the offseason to graduating and transferring. However, these new players were all excited and motivated to show off their true skill.

The Eagles won the opening coin toss and elected to receive in the first half. There was very little time shattered until the first score took place. It began with wide receiver Clayton Cannon (2) scoring on the opening kickoff. Cannon gave his team the opening lead and brought some early excitement to the Eagles sideline and fans.

With some strong early defense by defensive lineman Ryan Cruz (99) and the rest of the team, the Eagles forced an early McArthur punt. The rest of the quarter followed the same path as both offenses struggled moving the ball down the field.

“I think the defense did a really good job stopping the run,” middle linebacker Gabriel Lenamon (54) said. “We are a team so we have to help out the offense.”

The remainder of the first quarter remained quiet as the score did not change. It was a 7-0 game in favor of the Eagles. Both teams were struggling to move the ball on offense and played great defense.

The first drive of the second quarter benefited the Eagles. Big runs by running backs Clayton Cannon Jr. (1) and Justin Spano (3) eventually led to a rushing touchdown by Spanno. Following an offsides penalty by the Mustangs, the Eagles went for a two point conversion and succeeded. The Eagles led 15-0.

“I broke a lot of tackles today,” Cannon Jr. said.

The following drive resulted in a touchdown for the Mustangs. It started with a big kickoff return and then a few big passes. McArthur ended up missing the extra point, so the Eagles led 15-6.

The first half ended with a bunch of penalties by both teams and a missed field goal by the Eagles.

The second half began with a great defensive stop by the Eagles, leading to a McArthur punt. Then, Eagles quarterback Hunter Rose (11) threw an interception on a screen pass and the ball was returned all the way into the end zone by a Mustangs’ defensive lineman. With adding two more points from a two point conversion, the Eagles’ lead shrunk to one point.

After Rose’s interception, the Eagles made a quarterback change. The switch was from Rose to quarterback Ryan Spallina (15).

“I told the guys to stay calm in the huddle,” Spallina said. “We still had a long game ahead of us and we needed to calm down.”

Spallina’s first drive resulted in a three-and-out. His defense ended up coming through for him as they made a big fourth down stop at midfield.

Spallina’s second drive in the game resulted in a touchdown. The drive was successful with more big runs by Spano and Cannon Jr., who scored for the Eagles.

Following the Eagles touchdown, the Mustangs did not hesitate to respond as they returned the following kickoff into the end zone. McArthur decided to go for the two point conversion in an attempt to tie the game, but it was unsuccessful. The Eagles led 22-20.

The next drive ended the third quarter and began the fourth. The possession began with two completions of at least 20 yards by Spallina, and a big and tough run by Cannon Jr.

Spano finished off the drive with another rushing touchdown, his second of the night. During this drive, the Eagles played the clock management game and minimized the amount of time left for a McArthur comeback.

“Not getting tackled by the first person helped us win today,” Spano said.

Consecutive three-and-outs by both teams led to the Mustangs getting their last chance to score with just 1:45 left to play in the game. They were able to move the ball down the field but were unable to get out of bounds. The Eagles played good defense to force the Mustangs to stay in bounds and keep the clock running.

The drive eventually ended short with a big sack by Cruz and defensive end Tucker Jean (17) and an unsuccessful attempt into the end zone.

Spallina finished off the game with a kneel and gave the Eagles a win in the first week of the season. The game was a team effort as many players contributed to their success.

Despite the team’s successful win, they still felt the need to touch up on some parts.

“We need to work on the mental stuff like getting guys in and out, substitutions and not jumping off sides,” Spallina said.

The Eagles will play their next game at home against Plantation High School on Thursday Sept. 8. That will be the Eagles homecoming game, and they hope to finish the game with the same positive result and remain undefeated.