One measure of a team is how it responds after a week off.
Prior to its matchup at Spring Hill with Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School, Saint Stephen's High School football coach Tod Creneti wanted to see how his squad would respond after last week's bye. At the start, the Falcons did show a little rust.
But after eventually taking control, Saint Stephen's posted what coach Tod Creneti thought was a hard-fought 28-0 Sunshine State Athletic Conference victory over the host Hurricanes. With the decision, the Falcons improve to 5-0 on the season.
"They played extremely hard," Creneti said. "It was 21-0 at the half and after we jumped it to 28-0 early in the third quarter, their kids just said 'no, we're going to dig in and we're going to fight' and that's impressive.
"I told their coach (Jeff Swymer) after the game they were more physical in the fourth quarter than they were all night, so it was a battle. Their coaches have sent a high bar for them and their kids responded."
On the other side, the loss drops Bishop McLaughlin to 2-4 on the year.
"That's a really solid team and well-coached," Swymer said. "That was the best second half we've played this year against a team of that caliber.
"I thought we played a little soft in the first half and I think we missed some turnovers. They don't make a lot of mistakes, so when you have a chance to take one away, you have to do it."
Saint Stephen's got all the points they needed late in the first quarter on a 38-yard run from Demetrius Davis at the 1:19 mark. A pair of Fred Billy touchdowns, the second coming with just five seconds left in the half made it a 21-0 contest.
"The linemen played well," Billy said. "We just stuck to the game plan and knew we would come out with a W."
The final score of the game came at 7:38 of the third quarter on a 10-yard strike from Billy to Vaughn Hayes. It was Hayes' first reception of the season.
"That's the beauty of this season for us," Creneti said. "We played without a couple guys tonight, but I felt we had six or seven kids that can help -- we've got a lot of guys that can contribute and chip in."
"I'm not disappointed with our effort," Swymer said. "We played hard, but at some point you have to give the other team some credit -- they're pretty good."
Billy and Davis carried the load for the Falcons, who finished with a 350-177 advantage in total yardage. Billy totaled 100 yards rushing and threw for 88 yards, completing 9-of-14 passes.
"I thought it was an ugly win, but it was a win," Billy said. "There were some things that were murky on offense (that) we need to fix for this coming week."
"We need to be sharper going forward," Creneti said in agreement. "Our kids found themselves on their heels in the second half, but dug in, played hard in key situations and that's good for us."