GIBSON CITY - Being undefeated wasn’t enough. The starting unit allowing only one score in five weeks wasn’t enough. Three straight shutouts wasn’t enough. Even a 51-0 home win over then-undefeated and favored rival PBL wasn’t enough. The domination leading up to Friday’s matchup with Fieldcrest hadn’t quite convinced the masses that GCMS should be favored in week eight, and the rankings reflected that sentiment.
Fieldcrest showed up on the Falcons’ doorstep labeled the seventh seed, while GCMS sat at 10th.
A year after walking over GCMS to the tune of a 52-2 win, the Knights’ continued dominance over the Falcons rang loudly in most minds.
For the players, it was a loss freshman year that was in the forefront. Their mindset heading into the game wasn’t about proving anything to outsiders as much as it was about using the past as motivation to achieve what they hadn’t before.
Any doubt about the results of the first seven weeks was put to rest Friday night, as GCMS avenged the past and defeated Fieldcrest with a redemptive 52-0 victory that officially put the Falcons on the radar of anyone still sleeping.
“They play with a chip on their shoulder,” defensive coach Chad Augspurger said after Friday’s game. “They wanted this victory. As a coach, you can’t want it for them. They have to want it themselves. And they wanted it. They wanted it more than Fieldcrest, and they wanted it more than all the other opponents (this season).”
While the offense has scored over 40 points in each of the past six weeks, it’s the defense that continues to stand out. Over the past six weeks, GCMS’ starting defensive unit has allowed only one score, and Friday's win was their fourth straight shutout.
“They’re just executing so well right now,” Augspurger said. “And it’s so much them right now, because they’re the ones who are getting online, getting on Hudl. They’re scouting their opponents so well. They know where to be. They know the plays teams are going to run, and they’re just executing and playing great. I can’t really describe it. They’re just doing what’s being asked of them. They know how to adjust. They know how to shift and how to disguise coverages. They’re just doing it all right now.”
When asked about the six game stretch of defensive excellence, Augspurger said getting Levi Davis back was a big help in solidifying the defensive front, while the team’s understanding of his defensive schemes really came together about the same time.
“Coach (Kyle) Bielfeldt did a great job with the defense,” Augspurger said of last year’s defensive coach, who took a job as a middle school principle this summer. “I changed a few things in terms of how I wanted to do stuff, and it took a little adjusting period to understand the way I wanted to play Cover 2 and how I wanted to line up. The way I was doing stuff was a little bit different, and it just took them some time to understand the philosophy of the defense. Since they got it figured out, they’ve just been doing awesome.”
After eight weeks, the defense still hasn’t allowed a first quarter score, which brings that scoring differential to 215-0.
Head coach Mike Allen said momentum has been a big key to the team's success so far.
“We knew we had the capability of playing this well,” Allen said. “When the offense clicks, when the defense clicks and special teams clicks, it gets momentum on our side. Football, and athletics in general, is a game of momentum, and we’ve been very fortunate to have it in these big games and hopefully that’ll continue to help us.”
Senior running back Nick Meunier ran for five touchdowns and 143 yards, as the Falcons notched their fourth straight shutout, defeating seventh-seeded Fieldcrest 52-0.
Meunier scored the first three touchdowns of the game, while running behind the duo of fullback Mitch McNutt and lineman Levi Davis, a new scheme that made it tough for defenders to catch the running back.
After taking all five of the opening snaps for a total of 45 yards and a touchdown, the senior scored a 20-yard touchdown after he found no opening on the left and outran everyone to the right.
The third touchdown was scored on a fourth and four from the 22-yard line, when Meunier slipped through a hole to his left and made it 19-0 GCMS with 9:55 in the second quarter.
James Fairfield hauled in two great catches on the team’s next offensive drive, to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Levi Davis.
Zach Johnson returned an interception 70 yards to set up the fourth touchdown by Meunier to end the half up 32-0.
Mitch McNutt picked up a fumble and returned it for the touchdown at the beginning of the second half, and Meunier found the end zone for the fifth time shortly after to start the running clock with 8:20 left in the third quarter.
Continuing what has become a tradition for the sophomore, Luke Freehill added a fourth quarter touchdown to cap the night’s scoring.