By Kathi Bliss
With a big win over the Lehman Lobos on Friday night, the Varsity Lions kept their playoff hopes alive, while accomplishing something nearly unprecedented in Lockhart football history.
For the first time in recent history, the Lions are undefeated at home. Adding to the sweetness of the victory, Friday night was Homecoming and Senior night, and the last time Lockhart’s seniors expect to play on their home field.
The night opened with the Lions kicking off to Lehman, but quickly turning over on downs. On the Lions’ first possession, they drove down the field from deep inside Lockhart territory, finally capping the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run from Levi Mair.
On the following possession, the Lobos answered with a touchdown of their own, but a wide attempt from Lehman’s kicker left the scored tied at 6.
Lockhart took possession after the kick at their own 32. At the end of another impressive drive, Curtis Hawkins powered across the goal line with a 1-yard rush. A solid kick from Jordan Johnson put the Lions ahead 13-6.
After shutting down the Lobos next offensive attempt, the Lions took possession inside Lobo territory, at the 44. Once again, Hawkins found the endzone and Johnson found the goalposts, and the Lions went up 20-6 before the first quarter came to a close.
The first offensive attempt by the Lobos in the second quarter was successful, as Lehman’s Tyler Hyss found the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the quarter. With their extra point attempt, the Lobos closed the gap to 20-13.
The Lions answered back almost immediately, scoring again on their next possession with a 3-yard climb by Levi Mair, putting the Lions ahead 27-13.
While the Lions rested in the locker room, their fans enjoyed the show and the presentation of the Homecoming Court. Birthday girl Amy Schlaht and Lion senior Ray Sedwick were crowned Homecoming Queen and King moments before Sedwick and his court (Mair and Marcos Rodriguez) had to be back on the field to finish the game.
The third quarter proved to be slow, as both teams’ defense dug in their heels, trading possessions but ultimately, with neither team finding their way to the end zone.
In the fourth, the Lion defense continued holding strong, but the offense broke loose, stacking up 21 points in the fourth.
Hawkins opened the floodgates with his third touchdown on the night, finishing a 9-yard charge into the end zone.
Lehman answered the score with their next (and final) touchdown, making the score 34-20.
CJ McKinney came alive on the next drive, scampering 53 yards for his first touchdown of the night. After Lockhart picked up a 15-yard penalty for blocking below the waist, Johnson nailed a 28-yard extra point kick to put the Lions up 41-20.
The Lions decided for an onside kick, which was recovered by sophomore Oscar Diaz, giving Lockhart possession at the Lobos’ 31-yard line. The Lions marched the ball right back down the field, with Mair finding the end zone on a 5-yard rush with 4:04 left on the clock.
Though the Lobos took one more shot, they turned possession over on a masterful interception by Zane Schnautz. The Lions ran down the clock and took the victory, moving to 6-3 (3-3) with one game left in the season.
Senior Rhett Crawford was visibly elated as the Lions headed back to the locker room.
“We developed confidence early in the season, and we just kept building on that,” he said when asked what made this season different than his earlier years in Lion football. “As long as we play like we practice and we stay prepared…”
Senior Brandon Miller called going undefeated at home during his senior year a “memory that will last a lifetime,” and credited the family atmosphere of the team for the Lions’ success this season.
Successful achievement of the Lions’ goal of a playoff bid has one more obstacle, though – the Lions’ Friday night faceoff with the Kerrville Tivy Antlers (6-3, [5-1]) in Kerrville. During the course of District play, the Lions, though unbeatable at home, have struggled on the road. Regardless, the team is reserved, but optimistic.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the season to make the playoffs,” said senior Corey Cuellar. “From the start, we committed to do what it takes, and so far, we’ve done it. This week, we just have to prepare like we’ve never prepared before and be as ready as we can be.”
The Antlers, the Alamo Heights Mules (8-1, [6-0]) and the Hays Rebels (8-1, [5-1]) have all but guaranteed themselves playoff bids. The fourth slot will go to either Lockhart or the Seguin Matadors. To make that happen, the Lions must beat Tivy and the Matadors must fall to Boerne-Champion (4-5, [2-4]).
The Lions will take on Kerrville Tivy at Antler Stadium (Stadium Drive at Holdsworth Drive, in Kerrville) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.