Friday night against River Ridge in a Region 7AAAA crossover contest, it seemed as if it was the offense that was making all of the plays.
And Shifflett was at the point.
The junior threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns — a new school record for touchdown passes according to coach Josh Robinson — as the Bruins improved to 4-0 on the year with a 54-14 thrashing of River Ridge.
It was the second straight week that Northwest Whitfield went over the 50-point plateau after a 52-35 win over Cass.
“Last week, the offense didn’t do as much, and the defense really carried us in the game, both in shutting down Cass and in scoring some points,” Shifflett said. “(On Friday), it just clicked for us on the offense from the first play.”
The glass-half-full viewpoint of the night for the Knights (1-4) is that they have been here before. Last year, River Ridge started the year with the same mark before winning four straight to claim the subregion title and earn a spot in the state playoffs.
Coach Robert Braucht emphasized that point after the loss.
“We don’t want to harp upon the past because the past is what you build on,” he said. “Next week, when we get into subregion play, is when it begins to count. Next week is when we start playing our money games. We have to get ready for Cedartown and worry about controlling our own destiny.”
The first play of the game was a 61-yard go-route from Shifflett to Andy Whisenant, and the Northwest offense did little in the way of slowing down after that fast start. Jordan Webb had a pair of touchdown runs — for 2 and 63 yards — in the first quarter, before Shifflett started hitting his marks.
He and Whisenant connected for a 66-yard scoring pass to give Northwest a 21-0 lead with 4:59 left in the first. Shifflett capped off a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 7-yard pass to Tevin McDaniel to give the Bruins a 28-0 lead at the half.
River Ridge was held to less than 60 yards of total offense in the first half, but the Knights showed some life to start the second.
Taking the opening kickoff of the third quarter, the Knights wasted little time, going 80 yards in four plays. E.J. Ellis had a 45-yard run to start the series, and quarterback Steven Spears hit DeShawn Franklin for the team’s biggest pass of the night and a 24-yard gain. Ellis capped off the drive with a 5-yard run.
But Northwest bounced right back and took three plays to go 64 yards. Shifflett connected this time with Connor Beard on the 25-yard scoring strike.
River Ridge got back on the board with another 80-yard drive to close out the third quarter with Ellis scoring on a 6-yard run, but by that point, Northwest led 47-14 with a running clock through the fourth quarter.