SANFORD – Coming into the season opener, everyone knew how talented Cheverus High’s football team was.

Friday night, the Stags showed they’re pretty tough too.

Behind the hard running of Donald Goodrich and Brent Green, the two-time defending Class A champion Stags pounded Sanford 43-6 at Cobb Stadium to win their 25th consecutive game.

Goodrich rushed for 173 yards and had the game’s pivotal play, a 46-yard touchdown scamper late in the third quarter with the Stags up by only seven. Green rushed for 68 yards and scored two touchdowns.

Asked what his team did well in the opener, Cheverus coach John Wolfgram said, “The first thing is we’re physical, we were physical on both sides of the ball, which is important. The second thing is I thought we played hard for 48 minutes.

“Certainly not perfect but we played hard for 48 minutes. If those things happen, I think you have a good chance to be successful over the long haul.”

The Stags dominated the first half but led only 13-0, the result of two lost fumbles that stopped drives deep in Sanford territory.

Then the newly-named Spartans came out and put together a 17-play, eight-minute drive that resulted in a 3-yard scoring run by Alex Shain. Sanford was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after the score, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. The conversion failed and Cheverus led 13-6.

Three plays later, the momentum swung back to the Stags.

On second-and-4 from the Sanford 46, Goodrich ran off left tackle and found no one in front of him and sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown. Liam Fitzpatrick, making a successful start in his first game at quarterback (74 rushing yards and a touchdown, as well as a touchdown pass), then threw to Mike Flaherty for the conversion and the Stags were back on top, 21-6.

“We’ve got a character group of kids,” said Wolgram. “We feel during a football game you have to answer and we answered with a nice drive.”

A fumbled lateral two plays later, recovered by Goodrich, gave the Stags the ball on Sanford’s 14. Five plays later, Fitzpatrick threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Flaherty. Patrick Mourmouras’ PAT made it 28-6 as the third quarter ended. “The dam broke at that point,” said Mike Fallon, coach of the Spartans. “We had no answers after that.”

Goodrich and Green consistently broke tackles either in the backfield or at the line to keep Cheverus moving on offense. But it wasn’t until the Stags lost their second fumble in the first half that they really began to click. “I told the guys, every drive after this, we’re going to score,” said Fitzpatrick. “And we really buckled down.”

In fact, other than a possession at the end of the first half, when Fitzpatrick took a knee in the final seconds, the Stags’ first offense scored on every possession they had while in the game.

It was obviously a good start to the Stags’ title defense. But, Goodrich pointed out, it was just that — a start.

“We try to take it one game at a time and not think of the past and just look forward,” said Goodrich. “We’ve got a new mountaintop to climb and that’s what we’re looking at.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH