Game 1, 8/21
AUSTIN 38, SPAIN PARK 35 (3 OTs)
Despite a strong performance by a pair of fleet-footed running backs, a powerful offensive line and a courageous quarterback, the Spain Park Jaguars suffered a heartbreaking season-opening loss to the Austin Black Bears at Decatur’s Ogle Stadium. Austin secured the victory on kicker Ivan Torres’ 18-yard field goal in triple overtime.
“I thought both teams played their tails off, that’s all you can ask,” Spain Park coach Shawn Raney said. “We’ve just got to become better football players and do what we’re supposed to do, but I’m proud of them.”
In the loss, Jags’ senior Joey Beatty made a sensational debut in his first career start under center, throwing for nearly 250 yards and two touchdowns. Beatty demonstrated quick decision-making ability, along with accuracy and arm strength.
“He’s not going to make many mistakes, and he’ll come up with some plays for us,” Raney said. “I think he’ll continue to get better because he’s a good worker and a good kid.”
Spain Park trailed Austin 14-7 at the half, but continually battled back through the third and fourth quarters, tying the game at 28-28 with less than 10 minutes to play. A series of scoreless drives by each team in the waning minutes pushed the game to overtime. In the third overtime period, Austin blocked kicker Crosby Gray’s 23-yard field goal attempt, opening up the door for Torres’ redemptive boot.
“Coming out of camp, you don’t know exactly where you’re at, so now we’ve got some stuff to build on, and we’ll get better,” Raney said.
Game 2, 8/28
SPAIN PARK 31, HUEYTOWN 0
Coming off a stinging triple-overtime loss to Austin High School in its season-opening contest, Spain Park entered the home-opener against Hueytown craving a victory.
“Last week we made too many mistakes to win,” Spain Park coach Shawn Raney said. “Some of the stuff that they’ve been coached to do, they didn’t do it.”
Highlighting the importance of a strong work ethic and short memory, the Spain Park team that took the field on Friday night in no way resembled the Jags of just one week ago. Showcasing a relentless defense, unstoppable offense and energized special teams, Spain Park dominated every aspect of the game, cruising to a shutout victory.
“I was proud of the way we played and the way we acted,” Raney said. “I think they took some ownership in it this week.”
Spain Park came out of the gate firing, quickly jumping out to a 21-0 lead through one quarter of play. By halftime, the Jags led 31-0.
Running backs Larry Wooden and Wade Streeter each ran for a touchdown. Quarterback Joey Beatty threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Will Greene before adding six more points on a quarterback sneak.
The Jags’ special teams looked sharp, as kicker Tyler Sumpter recorded six touchbacks and Crosby Gray converted four extra points while also booting a 33-yard field goal through the uprights to close the first half.
“That was another area I thought we got beat on last week and again we challenged the kids, and I thought they responded well,” Raney said. “We worked on it hard, and I think it showed up tonight.”
Game 3, 9/4
SPAIN PARK 15, THOMPSON 14
Spain Park kicker Crosby Gray laced a 39-yard field goal through the uprights with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter, propelling the Jags to a gritty road victory over Thompson (2-1) in the first week of region play.
“To get a win like this, especially on the road, it’s a blessing. I can’t even put it in words,” Spain Park coach Shawn Raney said. “We’ve got a lot of grit, and that’ll win you a lot of games, just to be able to continue to fight like they do.”
Gray’s 39-yard game-winner was his fifth field goal of the night, having already connected on kicks from 31, 39, 44 and 22 yards.
“Crosby stepped up. I had full confidence in him. He’s done it his whole career,” Raney said.
The Jags trailed 14-12 entering the fourth quarter, and the Spain Park defense battled relentlessly to prevent the Warriors from extending their lead. On the night, Spain Park held Thompson to 250 yards of total offense, with just 26 of those coming through the air.
The 12-play, game-winning drive began at the Spain Park 24-yard line and included a remarkable tip-drill catch by wide receiver Thomas Jordan and a critical fourth-down conversion by running back Wade Streeter.
Although Gray had missed a 35-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter, he remained confident and focused when he attempted the winning kick.
“I just kept on thinking follow through straight,” Gray said.
He did, and the Jags followed him to victory.