A day after the Matanzas football team lost to Deltona, Pirates coach Matt Forrest posted on social media that he never has been more proud to be the Pirates’ head coach.
Matanzas lost quarterback Dakwon Evans to a left shoulder injury early in the game, but the Pirates kept fighting in a 26-7 loss on Sept. 9 at the Ship.
A week earlier, Forrest called out his team for not elevating its game after it fell behind early in a loss to Tocoi Creek. This time, the Pirates elevated their game, Forrest said.
“When you look at Dakwon, arguably our best player, getting knocked out of the game on the fifth play, at that point it's really easy to be like, ‘I’m just going to pack it in, it’s not worth it.’ And we didn’t do that.”
— MATT FORREST
“When you look at Dakwon, arguably our best player, getting knocked out of the game on the fifth play, at that point it's really easy to be like, ‘I’m just going to pack it in, it’s not worth it.’ And we didn’t do that,” Forrest said. “We played hard on both sides of the ball. Our guys battled and really elevated their game, given the circumstance. That was a defining moment, in my opinion, on what kind of kids we’ve got in our program, and how our program responds to adversity. So, it was great to see us turn that corner.”
Evans will not practice this week, but he has a chance to play at Flagler Palm Coast in the annual Potato Bowl game on Friday, Sept. 16.
“We don’t think it’s anything serious. He didn’t break anything,” Forrest said. “It's his non-throwing shoulder, which is very positive. It’s going to be a game-time decision, just depending on how he feels. I think it's probably going to be more on pain tolerance. I think, if he can play, he will.”
Evans passed for 211 yards and three touchdowns against Tocoi Creek. With the junior on the sideline against Deltona, the Pirates played sophomore backup quarterback Jackson Lundahl and junior two-way player Cole Hash, who has had a package out of a wildcat formation.
The offense struggled without Evans. Hash rushed for 19 yards. The rest of the team combined for 1 yard of offense.
Hash also scored the Pirates’ only touchdown on an interception return with 1:11 left.
“Dakwon is a special player,” Forrest said. “Whenever you miss a guy like that, it shows. So, I think we did the best we could. Again, I don't think our kids gave up an inch.”
Whether Evans plays or not against the Bulldogs, the Pirates will have a week to prepare without him.
“Some other guys are going to get some very important reps,” Forrest said. “It's only going to help in their development.”
Deltona (3-0) came into the game averaging 57 points. The Pirates (1-2) held the Wolves to 18 points until the final minutes of the game, despite the defense having to stay on the field for most of the contest.
“Defensively, I think the whole unit played well,” Forrest said. “With Cole playing quarterback a little more than we wanted to, we had to rely on some guys like Joseph Lundy, a sophomore linebacker. I thought he came in and did a great job. I thought Landon Wright played exceptionally well at backer.”
Forrest also praised defensive linemen Luke Doner and Amir Tariq and defensive backs Jordan Mills, Herby Tima and Eddy Luna, who intercepted a pass.
“Our defense as a whole played the best game probably that I've seen in a long time,” Forrest said.
The defense may have to pick it up another notch against FPC, which is averaging 451.5 yards in two games.
“We've obviously got a tough game this week. FPC's got a great run game, and they're starting to throw the ball effectively now,” Forrest said. “They've got two or three great running backs, a great quarterback, a great offensive line and great receivers. Defensively, they're solid; they don't give up much. So, we've got to rise to the challenge again. And it doesn't matter if Kwon doesn't practice a lick this week and has to play. That's not an excuse. We've got to rise to the occasion.”