A 49-point showing at Liberty last week may not have turned many heads. After Thursday's 49-27 win over Eaglecrest, the once-woeful Doherty Spartans have certainly done their part to earn a little recognition.
Zach Young rushed for 221 yards and six touchdowns, and the Doherty defense forced six turnovers as the Spartans jumped all over the Raptors, a 5A state quarterfinalist last season, and improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2006.
"We felt like this game was a big statement game," said Young, who already has 467 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in two games. "We thought if we could get this win, it would get us rolling. We knew they were a physical and fast team. We had to come out and hit them first."
Doherty did just that, winning the toss and electing to receive. Then, one year after not crossing midfield once in a demoralizing 56-0 loss to the Raptors at Legacy Stadium, the Spartans quickly went 82 yards in four plays.
Quarterback Evan Powell completed a 15-yard pass to Kyle Carey, then tossed a 27-yarder to Lalo Porras. After Young's 8-yard run put the ball at the Eaglecrest 32, Young bounced to his left and sliced through the secondary for the first of his six scores.
On Eaglecrest's second play from scrimmage, quarterback Elijah Ross flipped an errant pitch that was recovered by Emin Cecunjanin at the Raptors 23. Two plays later, Young took a pitch, ran right, picked up a Carey block and scored again from 12 yards out.
Just 2:10 in, Doherty already had a 14-0 lead and a wave of momentum on its side.
"We knew they had a chip on their shoulder from last year, and we weren't ready for them," said Raptors running back Aaric Witt, who finished the game at quarterback after an injury to Ross in the second half. "We just weren't focused, and we can't turn over the ball like that."
Eaglecrest chopped the deficit to 14-7 with a 92-yard drive, as the Raptors appeared to have found their groove. Any momentum was lost after returner Donovan Hernandez muffed a punt at the Eaglecrest 15.
Four plays later, Young, lining up at quarterback, snuck in from 2 yards to make it 21-7 with 10:39 left before half.
By halftime, Eaglecrest had lost four fumbles. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Alec Drake mishandled a handoff, and Doherty's Darrian Stickney recovered at the Raptors 33.
Young and the Spartans made Eaglecrest pay again, rumbling for a touchdown on the ensuing play.
Doherty led 42-7 at the end of the third quarter after Young touchdown runs of 6 and 20 yards.
Two late scores by Eaglecrest cut the cushion to 42-19, but Spartans sophomore Tequan Baker added an exclamation point with a 92-yard kickoff return with seven seconds left.
The Spartans aren't about to get ahead of themselves, despite the encouraging start. Doherty has won four straight dating back to last season after dropping 26 of 28 over parts of the previous three years.
"We're still the same 2-8 team we were last year," said Doherty junior linebacker Chris Paxton, who recovered two fumbles. "Being 2-0 doesn't mean anything right now. We just have to keep working as hard as we can, and that's it."