Fans convened near the steaming grill, referees escaped to their cars at halftime and the public address announcer incessantly pitched the concession stand’s warm and delectable hot chocolate.
At an elevation of 8,332 feet, with snowflakes falling and a chilly breeze sending shivers down hundreds of spines, the cold weather seemed to affect everyone at the Spring Mountain football field on Mount Charleston Saturday afternoon.
Everyone but the Spring Mountain players.
The Golden Eagles defense caused five first-half turnovers, scored a pair of touchdowns and helped enable a running clock in the first quarter in their swift 58-0 home victory over Indian Springs.
“We did a real good job,” defensive tackle Jaquan Calhoun said. “It was all about focus, effort and the whole team being together as one.”
Less than two minutes into the game, the 315-pound Calhoun blew through the Indian Springs offensive line and recovered a fumble in the end zone off a botched snap for the game’s first score. The senior’s play was indicative of what was to come, as Spring Mountain’s defense held the Thunderbirds to 23 yards of total offense in the 1 hour, 23-minute game.
“I had to set the tone,” Calhoun said. “I’m the nose (tackle). Gotta set the tone every time.”
And that he did — in a game he called, “the coldest of the year.”
Calhoun was a disruptive force for the defending Class 1A state champions, bringing a strong push inside throughout the game and allowing his teammates to make plays in space behind him. Delvin Brown and Michael Johnson each recovered a fumble, and Jeremiah Jimenez returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown as Spring Mountain scored 38 first-quarter points and led 46-0 at halftime.
“That’s what we preach — have the takeaway mentality,” Spring Mountain coach Aaron Masden said. “Forcing mistakes, capitalizing on mistakes. So it’s just nice to see us taking steps forward in that and embracing that mentality.”
The offense, meanwhile, did most of its damage on the ground.
Spring Mountain (3-1, 2-0 1A Southern League) ran for 204 yards and got TD runs from five players. Jimenez’s 19-yard scamper with 10:35 left in the fourth quarter closed the scoring.
“We want to make sure everybody gets involved,” Masden said. “Most of our guys don’t have football experience, so we’re trying to get a lot of guys experience. We’re going to need experience and depth down the road. Games like this are good to get everybody involved. …
“I thought we did a better job of working some technique. We just have to continue making the little steps going forward.”
Damariyae Royal hauled in a 19-yard TD pass, and the Golden Eagles converted five of their eight two-point attempts.
Elyas Jones had 27 yards rushing and 19 yards receiving to lead Indian Springs (1-3, 1-1).