Shoemaker head coach Channon Hall said the Grey Wolves were far from perfect in a 40-14 win against Bryan Rudder to open the season Friday.
But it was the type of performance that Hall said he expects from his defense.
Shoemaker forced four turnovers, including two interceptions by Desmond Brown, and held Rudder to negative rushing yards to roll to a 26-point win at Leo Buckley Stadium.
“That’s what we expect,” Hall said. “We expect those guys to lead the troops and be physical.”
The Grey Wolves (1-0) also added a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, which came in the first half, where the defense got Shoemaker rolling after a slow start.
After Shoemaker began the game with a busted play, a false start and two straight incomplete passes, Rudder advanced to the Grey Wolvs 9 on the ensuing possession in just seven plays.
But a Kerry Walker sack followed by a Broderick Reed tackle for loss ignited the defense as Rudder (0-1)went on to miss a 33-yard field goal.
After a 17-yard touchdown run by Corey Wilson gave Shoemaker a 6-0 lead, senior linebacker Teneak Hall chased down a wide receiver screen before stripping and recovering the loose ball to set Shoemaker up in Ranger territory.
“When I get the opportunity, coach says, ‘get the tackle, and if they’re not holding that ball right, you strip it out,’” Teneak Hall said. “So, being a momentum shift, that really lifted my team up. So, I worked really hard for that.”
The next play, senior Demetris Taylor hooked up with Derrick Thomas for the first of two first-half touchdowns between the two, this one a 26-yarder for a 12-0 lead with 6:18 remaining in the first.
Shoemaker ended the first up 18-0 after Desmond Jefferson blocked a punt that Tarik Spinks scooped up and ran in with 1:18 to play in the period.
A 36-yard touchdown run by junior Joseph Massey — who alternated with the starter Taylor — and a 44-yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Thomas gave the Grey Wolves a 25-7 halftime advantage.
Brown essentially put the game away in the third when he returned his second interception of the night 45 yards for a touchdown that put Shoemaker up 38-7 with 7:55 remaining in the third.
“It feels great,” Brown said. “That’s my first pick-6 ever I’ve had in my entire life.
“And I worked hard for it. I really strive for it.”
And while Shoemaker was happy to open the season with a win, the Grey Wolves, who had 14 penalties for 100 yards Friday, know they can still be better.
“We’ve got to get better,” Channon Hall said. “We’ve got holes in a few places.
“Hopefully when we come to Buckley next week we’ll put a better product on the field.”