In the second quarter, with the Eagles struggling to move the football on offense, head coach Clyde Folsom tried something new. He turned to junior quarterback Mike Daws to provide a spark for his team and opened up the passing game. Daws took control of things from there.
Daws completed seven-of-10 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown to help the Eagles to a 35-20 road victory over Sterling High School. The win extends West Deptford's unbeaten mark to 4-0.
The decision to switch from starting quarterback Alex Hilbmann to Daws wasn't performance-based. The Eagles coaching staff decided to take advantage of a hole that they originally noticed during last week's win over Haddon Heights.
“They were giving us the hitch route, the 12-yard cushion,” said Folsom. “Mike Daws throws that route very well. He's 100 percent on that. They were giving it to us and ultimately that was what allowed us to win the game.”
With the Sterling secondary playing very soft coverage on Eagle wideout Shai Mumford, Daws locked onto him. Five of Daws' seven completions went to Mumford. With the Eagles' passing game picking up first downs, it gave them the holes they needed to run the ball more effectively.
Daws, who got his first extended action under center this season, was cool and calm from the get-go, staying poised in the pocket and releasing his passes quickly. There was never a sense of fear from him at any point.
“You can't be real stressed about it,” said Daws after he was inserted into the game. “You can't show any stress because [the offense] will show stress too.”
With West Deptford leading 14-7 in the third quarter, Daws took the team on his back for the Eagles' longest drive of the game. Starting on their own 20-yard-line, Daws completed three straight passes to Mumford to help guide the team down the field. The third and final completion of the drive was a five-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles a 21-7 lead.
“It was an offensive turning point for us, said Daws. “It felt good to keep the lead, it was good to keep the defense comfortable too.”
A switch to a more aggressive passing offense was beneficial to running back Gerald Owens in a way as well. Owens went down late in the second quarter with what Coach Folsom said was a hip pointer. Owens was limited in the second half, but he still turned out a gutsy performance by running for 86 yards in the game, including a 23-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory for the Eagles.
The good news for Owens and West Deptford is that they will have a week off before their next game on Oct. 13 at Audubon.
“Our guys need to rest up,” said Folsom. Our last three games have been tit for tat, they were all really close and our guys had to fight for four quarters, so we welcome the break.”