He saw Gordo, Class 3A’s seventh-ranked team and the Panthers’ bigger, stronger, faster and deeper first-round playoff opponent.
Smith saw Gordo make big play after big play en route to beating Wellborn 55-8 and advancing to next week’s second-round game against No. 3 Handley.
After Smith saw it, he saw Wellborn’s off season program.
“We’ve got to go back this off season and work harder, and we’re going to have to get bigger, faster and stronger,” said Smith, who just completed his second year as his alma mater’s head coach.
“We’ve really improved a lot from the first year to the second year,” he said, “and we’ve got to build on that from the second to the third and keep building this program up.”
Wellborn finished the season 6-5 and made the playoffs for the second year in a row. This after the Panthers won just 10 games over five years, including four 1-9 seasons.
“I’m happy that we accomplished two goals,” Smith said. “We had a winning season and went to the playoffs, but our third goal was to win a playoff game.
“We came up short.”
Gordo (10-1) raced to a 41-0 lead at halftime, scoring 27 points in the second quarter.
Fullback Greg Howard got the blitz going with touchdown runs of five and three yards in the first quarter. He finished with 104 yards, two touchdowns and seven point-after kicks in eight tries.
The Green Wave’s second quarter scoring surge started with Demario Lanier’s 63-yard punt return, then Chavis McGee returned a Delrickus Rhoden fumble 70 yards for a score.
Quarterback Cameron Sanders chipped in with touchdown passes of 47 yards to Jodeci Jones and 29 yards to Lanier.
Lanier added a 79-yard kickoff return and Damichael White had a 29-yard touchdown run in the second half.
Wellborn’s highlights included a Rhoden interception in the end zone on the game’s first possession.
Judd Smith threw a 6-yard pass to Taylor Vera for the Panthers’ lone touchdown.
“We didn‘t want go to out with a shutout,” Vera said.
Chantz Goodman added the conversion run to trim Gordo’s lead to 48-8 in the fourth quarter.
Gordo outgained Wellborn 301 yards to 173.
The Green Wave got 168 yards on the ground, and Sanders hit on 7 of 11 passes for 133 yards and two scores.
Dalton Carroll led Wellborn with 49 yards on nine rushes, and Dalton Screws had one 34-yard end-around.
“Nobody wants to go out with their season like this,” Rhoden said.
“But we came out here and gave it all we had and laid the foundation for the younger guys coming up right behind us.”
Rhoden ran up against a defense that had shutout its previous five opponents. The senior had 15 yards on 15 carries in his final high school game, a tough ending to a productive career.
“He’s a good football player,” Smith said. “Three thousand-yard seasons. You can’t say much more than that.”
As for Gordo, the Green Wave will play host to Handley next week. Handley advanced with a 49-0 victory over Aliceville.
“We’re just glad to be in the second round,” Gordo coach David McKinney said.