Gainesville

The Gainesville Leopards have a new post-game tradition.

Following their 58-8 shellacking of River Oaks Castleberry on Friday, Sept. 13, at Leopard Stadium, the Leopards were revved up in celebration with head coach James Polk.

When Polk bent to his knees, his whole team knew what to do.

Polk yelled that they made them “tap out” and in unison, the entire team smacked the ground and yelled “tap out.”

The reason for their jovial attitude was their gaudy 44-8 halftime lead and Castleberry’s coach asked for there to be running time and no stoppages the rest of the game.

Polk said getting teams to yield is one of their goals this season.

“They pretty much gave up and that’s one of our deals — we want them to tap out,” Polk said. “We started it against Bonham in the scrimmage. We still had like 8-10 eight plays left in the scrimmage and their coaches said they were done. I told them, ‘way to make them tap out.’ And so that’s been our goal is to make people tap out and when they came in at halftime and told me that they wanted to run the clock. I’m like, man, we’ve got a whole half left.”

After not throwing for any yards in the Leopards’ win over Fort Worth Southwest, senior quarterback Traylen Shinault got right back on track against Castleberry.

Shinault was very efficient, throwing for 222 yards (7-of-12) and two touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 142.4.

On the receiving end of those passes was a quartet of wideouts with big-play potential. Junior Robyn Hardin had 100 yards and a touchdown on just two catches. Senior Isaiah Gipson hauled in a 54-yard touchdown and Tre Lawson had 65 yards on three catches.

The Leopards’ ground attack was their anchor on offense as they racked up 378 rushing yards and were led by Brandon Baker.

With four touchdowns in the game, Baker rushed for 227 yards on just 16 carries with a long run of 49 yards.

Junior CJ Feagins also had 57 yards and a touchdown while Harrison Dempsey had a 42-yard touchdown run.

Defensively, junior Mason Ford led the team with 12 tackles, including six solo tackles. Senior Draike Sparks also had nine tackles and a team-high seven solo tackles. Ethan Butler added six solo tackles as well.

The Leopards will travel to Van Alstyne this Friday, Sept. 30, and the Panthers have beaten Gainesville the past three seasons.

Polk said after the Leopards’ win over Castleberry that they wouldn’t get overly excited about their victory and would quickly turn their attention to Van Alstyne.

“It’s always been a war,” Polk said. “Two years ago, they ran an interception back 107 yards at the end of the game to beat us and then last year, we had the ball on the one-yard line and our college linebacker couldn’t stuff it in. It’s been a lot of close calls and bad memory games. And so I’ll really be hammering down on our team this week.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip

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