Spanish River coach Bill Caesar made a change in his defense at halftime of Thursday’s spring game against St. Andrew’s and the tweak paid off, keying the Sharks to a 30-7 victory.
With the game tied at 7, Caesar switched the team’s defensive scheme from a 3-5 to a a four-front.
Thirty minutes later, Caesar smiled after making the right call.
“We started out in that 3-5, which (St. Andrew’s) was used to playing against and we knew that at halftime, we could switch things up to the four-front,” Caesar said. “They didn’t make an adjustment to the four-front and I think we’re more aggressive (in that formation).”
With more defensive lineman in the picture, the Sharks were able to not only pressure St. Andrew’s quarterback Wyatt Ruth into errant throws, but remove the Scots’ running game as an option entirely.
Caesar pointed to the usage of rising senior Sam Burton, who switched to nose guard as part of the formation switch, as a key factor in the defense shutting the Scots down in the second half.
“In the first half, they kept spreading us out because he was playing outside linebacker and we wanted to get him out of the box,” Caesar said of Burton. “We realized that if Sam’s out of the box, he’s a waste because they’ll keep throwing at him. We moved him in and put a younger guy in the box and we were able to get after the quarterback.”
Burton welcomed the switch.
“At halftime, we were tied and coach was telling us, ‘it’s zero-zero, we have to come out here and finish the game,’ ” Burton said. “We had 24 minutes and had to go all out.”
Burton also scored the game’s first touchdown, reaching the end zone with 16 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
St. Andrew’s Gadiel Cartagena tied the game at seven in the second quarter, but a touchdown reception by Spanish River’s Miguel Caraballo early in the third quarter gave the Sharks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.