SOUTH POINT, Ohio - South Point High School football players took the practice field Monday without the glow of victory they wore Friday night.
Pointers coach James Gifford said that was a sign his team is maturing.
South Point is coming off a victory for the first time in two years, having won at Miami Valley Christian 41-6 last week. That was the first Pointers triumph since Aug. 17, 2017, when they beat Boyd County 20-12. That win over the Lions was the last at home for South Point, which will try to extend its winning streak to two when it takes on Alexander (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Alumni Stadium
"We're not happy just winning one, be we can use this as a change in the era, a change in the culture, so that we expect to win every game we play," Gifford said of South Point's first win after losing 19 in a row.
The Pointers aren't barking too loudly. They know Miami Valley Christian isn't exactly state champion Lakewood St. Edward. The Lions, though, were 7-3 last season and made the playoffs. South Point hasn't posted a record that good since 2013.
"It was good to see their faces at halftime, to see the excitement," Gifford said of his players, who led 28-0 after two quarters. "It's a learning tool, too, in that it doesn't have to be against a Miami Valley Christian, but can be against anybody we face. It's good to have the opportunity to break that negative cycle."
South Point led 6-0 before taking command in the second quarter, scoring 22 points. Malik Pegram threw a touchdown pass to Larry Fox. He later hit Chance Gunter with a TD pass and ran for a two-point conversion to make it 14-0. Fox's 50-yard scoring run boosted the lead to 21-0 and Maddox McCallister returned an interception for a score to make it 28-0 at halftime.
McCallister added a 25-yard TD run and Pegram threw another touchdown pass to Fox to set the score.
Gifford said the keys to South Point's success in that game were multiple.
"Just being well-rounded in all parts of the game," Gifford said, adding his squad was much improved from a week earlier when it lost 31-14 to Piketon. "Our defense played well. Varsity to varsity we didn't give up a first down. Our offense was clicking. I was pleased with the amount of players we had doing the correct assignments. The backs were running harder, the line was getting more of a push, our focus was a little better. We had goals set that we were able to achieve."
Alexander presents a challenge. The Spartans defeated Bradford 48-0 and Berne Union 33-13 to begin the season. Alexander beat South Point 35-14 last year in Albany, Ohio.
The Pointers' seniors are 3-29 in their careers, but 1-1 on the season and coming off a confidence-building victory. Fox and and offensive lineman Grant Gifford, the coach's son, have received scholarship offers from Urbana University and Concord University. Grant Gifford also owns a preferred walk-on offer from Appalachian State. All those factors show improvement coach Gifford seeks in his second year with South Point after a successful three-year run at Sciotoville East.