By Lyle Fitzsimmons
It was the most satisfying 40-yard split of Eamon Smart's career.
And upon his return to the Cape Coral sidelines after what turned out to be a 65-yard touchdown gallop in Friday night's fourth quarter, his teammates and coaches, not to mention a school administrator
or two, let him know they'd been paying attention, too.
"That had to be a 4.5, easy," one said.
"You were going so fast, I thought it was Rah-Rah (teammate Rasheen Bailey)," another added.
The good-natured Smart took the ribbing with a smile and happily wrapped up his Senior Night business at Dave Warkentin Field, ultimately racking up a mammoth 301 yards on 27 carries and scoring four times in the Seahawks' 54-6 non-district blowout of Lehigh.
Smart's memorable performance came in his final football appearance, and exactly one week after Cape High was eliminated from District 5A-14 postseason contention with a frustrating 24-9 loss to then-unbeaten Dunbar.
If the 5-foot-10, 212-pounder was still harboring angst from what occurred on the field seven nights prior, he was at least managing to channel the disappointment productively.
"We lost a game that we really shouldn't have last week, and our coach put it in our heads that we had to finish strong," he said, reflecting on the loss to the Tigers in which the Seahawks failed to score on multiple second-half possessions in Dunbar territory.
"It hurt. It really did hurt. When you know you could have done one thing different or a couple of things different to win a game that's the most important game of your season, it hurts. But we got over it and did what we had to do tonight."
Smart did exactly that from the opening whistle against the Lightning, scoring twice on one-yard runs in the first quarter before adding a third TD on a 19-yarder less than three minutes into the second. He instantly went from 202 yards to 267 yards on the aforementioned 65-yard scoring run with 3:40 to go in the third quarter, then reached 300 with a 33-yard jaunt on Cape High's initial play from scrimmage in the fourth.
One more carry for a single yard followed, putting an appropriate ribbon on the effort produced by a player typically leaned on more for tough gains inside the tackles than for breakaway speed.
"Eamon has been very consistent. He's been doing that all year, running the ball hard," Seahawks coach Larry Gary said. "He's a good kid, a strong kid and nothing but good things are going to happen for him. He's a special kid, a well-rounded young man. It couldn't happen to a better guy and he had a phenomenal year."
Cape High (7-3) also got three touchdown passes from quarterback Dylan Bontrager, who hit Miguel Repress with a 25-yarder, Rhasheed Jiles with a seven-yarder and the speedy Bailey on a four-yard shovel pass. The other Seahawks points came when Colin Loethen scooped up a backward pass
from Lehigh (1-7) quarterback Matt Yzaguirre and returned it 42 yards
for a score.
"We thought we were at least an eight-win team," said Gary, who can reach that goal with a defeat of host Mariner in the finale for both teams next Friday. "Our goal was always to win the district and we thought we
shouldn't lose any more than two games, so we're on the right track. But the way we're finishing up is good. We've had a successful year."
Lehigh 0 0 0 6 - 6
Cape Coral 20 14 20 0 - 54
CC - Smart 1 run (Perez kick)
CC - Smart 1 run (kick failed)
CC - Repress 25 pass from Bontrager (Perez kick)
CC - Smart 19 run (Perez kick)
CC - Bailey 4 pass from Bontrager (Perez kick)
CC - Jiles 7 pass from Bontrager (kick blocked)
CC - Loethen 42 fumble return (Perez kick)
CC - Smart 65 run (Perez kick)
L - Thomas-Cobb 23 pass from Yzaguirre (kick blocked)