Spain Park wins seventh consecutive game after dominating Mountain Brook

Published 5:10 pm Monday, September 21, 2009

Spain Park High School coaches must wonder sometimes if there is anything senior Aaron Haag can’t do.

After Spain Park’s 22-6 win Thursday night at Jaguars Stadium over Mountain Brook, the answer became clear.

Haag can do everything and he’s done it well in the Jags’ perfect 4-0 start to the 2009 season. The latest examples of Haag’s athletic ability included a touchdown-saving tackle on a fake field goal attempt and two timely punts inside the 5-yard line in the Jags’ win over Mountain Brook.

“Aaron has really turned it up a notch,” said Spain Park head coach David Shores. “Those two punts were huge.”

Haag, who helped Spain Park win its seventh consecutive game dating back to the 2008 season, said he’s just been doing what his coaches have asked him to do through the first four games of the season.

“I’m just doing what I can to help the team,” said Haag, who is in his second season with the Jags after transferring from Andalusia. “Everybody is playing their guts out. We’ve had a good start.”

When the Jags weren’t dominating on defense and special teams, senior running back DaRon Smith was leading the way on offense. Smith broke free and ran into the end zone untouched for a 54-yard touchdown on his first carry of the night.

Smith, whose touchdown gave Spain Park a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, finished with 118 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

“DaRon has been a clutch player,” Shores said. “We knew we were going to try to establish the run. We had a couple of things working scheme-wise for us.”

Lee Mitchell and Tamar Mickens also contributed to the Jags’ strong rushing attack as Spain Park rolled up 160 rushing yards in the soggy conditions Thursday evening. The start of the game was delayed 45 minutes due to lightning and heavy rainfall continued throughout the contest.

Mountain Brook kept it close in the early part of the game as the Spartans responded to Smith’s rushing touchdown with a 30-yard half-back pass from Bradford Houseal to John McCrary to cut the lead to 7-6 early in the second quarter. The extra point was blocked by Spain Park’s Donte Patton.

The Jags took over from that point forward. Justin Lumpkin nailed a 28-yard field goal with 9:48 remaining in the second quarter to give the Jags a 10-6 lead.

Following his touchdown-saving tackle in the third quarter, Haag booted a punt to the Mountain Brook 1 a few plays later. Linebacker Alex Payne spearheaded Mountain Brook running back Harrison Smith in his own end zone for a safety on the next play to give Spain Park a 12-6 lead.

Lumpkin added a 25-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to push the lead to 15-6. Keylan King intercepted a tipped pass by Mountain Brook quarterback Chris Branch and returned it six yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring for the Jags with 3:46 remaining in the game.

The fourth quarter was an exciting one for the Jags for the most part. There was concern on the sideline for a few minutes as linebacker Wilson Robinson and Smith were both hurt on a special teams play.

The Spain Park players celebrated the big plays with one another and shared concern for their hurt teammates. Emmanual Cooper provided a glimpse of the team’s unity as he shouted “Play for them” as Robinson and Smith came off the field.

Shores said that team unity has played an important role in the Jags’ fast start.

“It’s huge and we didn’t have that last year,” Shores said. “If you don’t have that togetherness, you can’t be successful.”

Shores said the Jags hope to build on their early season success.

“We’re going to keep talking about the same things we’ve talked about each week,” Shores said. “We’ve played with confidence each week.”

Spain Park, which is 4-0 in Class 6A, Region 6 and off to its best start in school history, will host its first non-region opponent, Briarwood Christian, in a homecoming game Sept. 25.