Breezion Spiller ran out onto the field at Leo Buckley Stadium on Friday night with every intention of proving the doubters wrong.
While many high school athletes avoid listening to what the TV stations have to say about their performance, Spiller uses the criticism as motivation.
“I’ve been watching (TV) and stuff and I’ve been seeing what they say about me,” he said.
“Like, ‘Oh, he can’t pass, he can’t whatever,’ so after practice I’ve been working on my craft to get better and better and do what I need to help my team win.”
The extra work paid off as Spiller rushed for 133 yards on 12 carries, including a touchdown he ran in after halftime.
He added another 141 yards on 8-of-14 passing, two of which were touchdowns, as Ellison took a 24-13 victory over Shoemaker.
To top it off, Spiller intercepted the final pass from Grey Wolves quarterback Mark Walker in the final seconds of the game.
“This win right here just feels great,” Spiller said. “ I know my team feels great. It’s our third win of the season.”
The Eagles are now 3-4 overall and 3-2 in District 12-6A, but taking the victory on homecoming in front of a full crowd added to the celebration.
“It was fun to look up and see all the green,” said Ellison coach Todd Wright. “And letting all them to go home happy is big, and for the 40th homecoming.
“But for me it was just beating a good team. We knew Shoemaker would play hard. and they did, but it’s easy to enjoy this one because we played good tonight.”
Wright was satisfied that his team was able to play fundamental football from lining up correctly at the line, to having no turnovers, to cutting down on penalties — something the Eagles have been struggling with all season.
Ellison opened district play against Waco and had 16 penalties for 110 yards.
Friday night, they had just six for 55 yards.
One area of the game the Eagles haven’t changed is going for the 2-point conversion after each touchdown.
“I don’t see that going away yet,” said Wright. “At some point I’ve got to have more confidence in the kicking line and maybe I will, but I don’t know yet.
“Right now, going for two is something our offense believes in and I want to stick with things that our kids believe in.”
Wright did note that his kicker had a great pre-game warm-up.
“At some point we’re going to need that one point,” he noted. “So we’ll keep practicing him and get better at it.”
Continuing to improve in every area of the game is Wright’s goal for the next week as the Eagles head to Temple to face the undefeated Wildcats.
“We have to play perfect,” Wright said. “We have to get better because they’re one of those teams that if you do anything even mediocre, they’re going to expose you on it because they’re so good everywhere.”
And with so many of the Wildcats being recruited, Wright wants his players to view this match-up as an opportunity to showcase what they can really do.
“I think the motivation will be there,” he added. “Our kids also know that if we don’t come out with everything, Temple will get after us.”