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Teamwork, passion take Lions to 4-0

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 By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

At times looking like they were playing in a mud pit, the Lions proved to the San Antonio Memorial Minutemen that Lockhart Lions are nothing to toy with. In front of a nearly capacity Homecoming crowd, the Lions plunged through a muddy field, taking no prisoners and stacking up a 42-12 District win.

After several days of rain, Lion field was equal parts turf and swamp. But the weather held off on Friday night, allowing the Lions to show one of District 27-5A’s newcomers what they have to look forward to for the rest of the season.

“We’re a family this year, and it’s a team thing this year,” junior center Joel Juarez said. “We’re not only competing in this district, we’re competing with each other, and that makes all of us better.”

The early minutes of the first quarter included a series of offensive tradeoffs, as both teams struggled to gain momentum while digging their heels into a muddy midfield. On their second offensive drive, however, the Lions struck out with successs, pushing down the field and capping a 60-yard drive with a first-and-goal touchdown from Curtis Hawkins.

Enrique Villegas hit the first of several point-after attempts on the night, to bring the Lions ahead 7-0. Scoring then stalled for the remainder of the first quarter. Although the Lions were in scoring position to start the second, a series of penalties on their drive shoved them back, but Ronald Hutchison was able to find the end zone after a key block from Hawkins opened a hole for him to slip through.

Villegas made good again, putting the Lions ahead 14-0.

What could have been a beautiful second-quarter play by Vincent Nevils was spoiled by a “block in the back” call. Senior Tarius Dawson hit the Memorial quarterback with a sack, causing a fumble, which Nevils recovered at the Lions’43-yard line and sprinted in for a would-be touchdown.

Unfortunately, the play was called back, and the Lions took possession with first-and-10 on their own 43. After picking up only a few yards, a Lion fumble was recovered by the Minutemen, giving possession back to Memorial and allowing them to embark on a 52-yard scoring drive that ended in the end zone.

The Lions were able to keep the Minutemen from converting, but the lead had been closed to 14-6.

Not wasting a moment, the Lions rumbled down the field on their next possession, running the clock down to 2:10 on the half on their way to another Hawkins touchdown and another good kick from Villegas.

To tie up the half, the Lions forced a punt at fourth-and-4, and ran down the clock with a slow, progressive strike. The half closed with the Lions up 21-6.

The Minutemen opted to receive in the second half, but their first scoring drive was interrupted by a turnover on downs, which the Lions capitalized on to make another hard drive to the end zone. Hawkins powered over the defensive line for the touchdown, and Villegas found the uprights again, growing Lockhart’s lead to 28-6.

While the Minutemen struggled to find momentum with what was expected to be a formidable passing game, the Lion defense locked down, forcing another punt, which was blocked by the Lions’ line.

“Our defense is less complicated than it’s ever been, and anyone can come in and learn it pretty fast,” senior defensive linemen Gunner Brown said. “We’ve got better personnel on the defense, and we’re more cohesive as a team and a family.”

Another would-be drive was shaken by a series of incomplete passes, penalties, and fumbles.

The Lions took the ball at their own 35, and saw DJ Ellison step up with two long rushes, including a 31-yard touchdown sprint that put the Lions up 35-6.

Finally, the Minutemen were able to get some traction, returning the next kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. The pass was incomplete on the conversion attempt, and the Lions maintained a 35-12 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Despite the teams trading defensive blows, the Lions were able to put together one more scoring drive, which found Nevils making his way back into the end zone on a 14-yard scamper, finally closing scoring at 42-12.

“We’re winning this season because everyone is doing their job,” said sophomore Stephon Houston. “If everyone does their job, and makes the smart plays, then we can live our motto – Teamwork makes your dream work.”

This week, the Lions will face one of their strongest challenges of the season as they travel to San Antonio to go up against the Alamo Heights Mules.

“Alamo Heights may currently have an advantage in depth and tradition but we believe that we are getting stronger as a team every day,” Head Coach Brian Herman said. “We are building our own tradition of success throughout the program.  We know that the mistakes that have been made in our first few games, if repeated, could cost us more on Friday.  Alamo Heights will capitalize on opponent’s mistakes and we must play better than we have so far to remain undefeated.”

He also noted that as excitement grows in the community, it also grows in the locker room.

“We remind the team that ‘good enough is not good enough,’” he said. “This is a tough district, and no game is more important than the next. If we are to be playing deep into November, we must play better every week.”

Only two weeks in, the Lions and Boerne-Champion (4-0, [2-0]) both remain undefeated in District. The Mules (3-2, [1-1]) fell 59-31 last week to Champion, and had a pre-season loss to O’Connor. They crushed Kennedy 41-0 during the first week of district play. With a deep bench of juniors and seniors returning on both sides of the football, the Mules made the State Quarterfinals during the 2013 season before falling to Port Lavaca-Calhoun.

The Lions have not had much success with the Mules, going 0-3 with them historically, by nothing less than a 25-point margin. Still, the Lions are hopeful this year could be their year.

The Lions will travel to Alamo Heights High School, 150 E. Fair Oaks Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, 78209 on Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled at 7:30 p.m.

(Additional information courtesy of Rob Ortiz)

 

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