The Destin Marlins started strong to whip the visiting Meigs Wildcats 56-20 in middle school football action Thursday night.
“I’m really proud of the way we started,” said Destin Coach Ron Griffiths. “We’ve got a good rhythm going on starting games.”
For the fourth week in a row, the Marlins have been the first to strike.
“It’s been nice to get off to a quick start,” Griffiths said.
And this Thursday against Meigs was no different with Deonte Sheffield cutting through the Wildcats defense on the first play from scrimmage for a 75-yard run to the end zone. Tyler Gilley kicked in the point after and Destin led 7-0 just 25 seconds into the game.
But it wasn’t just the offense putting points on the board Thursday; the Destin defense scored twice in the first half.
On Meigs second offensive play, quarterback Elliott Wyant tossed out a lateral behind the line of scrimmage. The ball fell loose and Destin’s Jake Bari scooped it up and ran it in for an 18-yard score. Gilley kicked in the PAT and Destin was up 14-0.
The other defensive score came late in the second quarter, when Jason Shirley stripped the ball loose and ran it back 65-yards for the score.
“That was a heck of an individual effort,” Griffiths said. “But the other guys on defense did their job as well.”
The third score for the Marlins again came quick. On the second play from scrimmage, Sheffield broke away for a 46-yard dash to the goal line. Gilley was good for the point after and Destin was on top 21-0 with 4:39 to go in the first quarter.
The Wildcats next possession was their longest drive of the game covering 80 yards in 15 plays. Bryson Mitchem and Rashard Parker were the workhorses on the series with Zack Childers finally taking it in on a 6-yard run. The two-point try failed.
Destin scored again, this time in four plays. After an 8-yard reception from Jack Bruner to Joe Kersanac, Bruner hit Gilley two plays later on a route for a 38-yard touchdown strike. Gilley came back with the extra-point kick for a 28-6 lead.
On Meigs next possession, the Wildcats were on the move, when Shirley stripped the ball loose for the 65-yard dash to the end zone.
In the last three minutes of the first half, Meigs scored one last time on a pass play. Wyant put the ball up, it was tipped by a Marlin but fell into the hands of a Wildcat for the score. The Destin defense stuffed them on the two-point try for a 35-12 advantage at the half.
Meigs came out in the second half and scored on a big play to start the third quarter. Parker broke away for a 55-yard run for the score, and Cole Crews took it in for the two-point play to close it down to 35-20.
Destin got those points back quickly with Bruner connecting with Sheffield on the first play from scrimmage for a 66-yard strike. Bruner completed a pass to Kersanac for the two-point conversion.
The Marlins scored two more times to finish the game. After the Marlins were hit with a “hurdling penalty” when Sheffield tried to leap over a Wildcat, he came back three plays later and broke away for a 55-yard run to the end zone. The last score of the night came off the arm of quarterback Matthew Boswell who connected with Trey Fell for a 16-yard touchdown.
“We did what we needed to do,” Griffiths said. “But we can’t rest. We need to be more aggressive between the tackles.”
Nevertheless with the 4-0 standing, Griffiths said, “With every win, we’re putting out ourselves in a good position for the playoffs.”
Up next for the Marlins is a 6:30 p.m. game Sept. 27 at Crestview High School against the Davidson Panthers.