Saturday, September 20, 2014

2014 Friday Night Football Week 4: Lake View vs. Greenwood

We had a very unusual thing happen this week regarding our football coverage for Week 4 of the high school football season... both of our large local teams were playing at home. Yep, both Central and Lake View would be playing before a home crowd at San Angelo Stadium. I drew the Lake View card again this week as it was my turn to fulfill the editor duties back at the office. However, instead of just getting to shoot half a game before heading back to the office, I was able to shoot the entire Lake View game because it started at 4:00pm! There's nothing better than getting to shoot an entire game free of deadline pressure.

The only thing that was cause for concern was the fact that we had a fair chance to get some rain showers passing through the area. Not that I'm complaining that we are getting some much-needed rain, but I would rather not be standing out in it with all my camera gear. Fortunately, other than a few drops during halftime, the rains stayed away and I didn't have to adorn my beautiful gear with the black trash bag and gaffers tape I had in my pack.

Lake View decided to put last week's 30-7 loss to Class 6A Lubbock Coronado behind them as best they could and come out gunning for their second home victory of the season. Lake View quarterback Nick Martinez had a tough time hanging on to the ball last week in the windy and wet conditions, but came out on Friday with a renewed sense of confidence against Greenwood. The first half was all Lake View as Martinez would put the Chiefs up 7-0 in the first quarter with a 6-yard run for the score with 5:22 remaining. Martinez continued to show his dominance in the second quarter with a 31-yard dash for a touchdown and a 68-yrad touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Lee to put the Chiefs up 21-0 at the half.

I got to experience yet another aspect of the game on Friday I don't normally get to see... the halftime show! Usually I'm dashing back to my computer to edit and transmit photos back to the office at this time and I don't get to enjoy the halftime shows of the respective schools. I played on the drum line in the marching band when I was in high school and college and my heart still beats a little faster every time that rhythmic clack-clack-clack of the snare line.

Lake View's scoring onslaught continued with the start of the third quarter with a 65-yard scoring run from Anthony Chappa and yet another Nick Martinez 7-yard scamper to put the Chiefs up 33-0 with 6:20 left in the third. The Chiefs were now eying a shutout, something they haven't done since 2007. In the fourth quarter, it was Nick Martinez scoring again on a 2-yard run to put the Chiefs up 40-0. In order to notch that shutout the Chiefs would have to hold off the Greenwood offense with 7:40 remaining. The time on the clock couldn't fall off fast enough for the Chiefs and with just 39 seconds remaining, Greenwood quarterback Zach Redwine found Bryce Thompson in the back of the end zone on a 14-yard pass. The Chiefs would have to settle for the win instead of the shutout, winning the nondistrict contest 40-7.

Nick Martinez had a stellar game rushing for 81 yards and four touchdowns, including completing 7 of 9 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown. Anthony Chappa finished the game with 109 yards rushing on just nine carries. All in all it was a great day for the Chiefs who will need to carry that momentum into next week when they travel to Llano. I'm not sure which game I'll be covering next week but I kind of hope I get to continue following the Chiefs.

Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 Friday Night Football Week 3: Lake View vs. Lubbock Coronado

For Week 3 of the high school football season, I traveled north to Lubbock, my old stomping grounds, for a non-district game between Lake View High School and Lubbock Coronado at Lowrey Field. I was excited about covering this game for three reasons:
1. My family lives in Lubbock so I was happy about spending the weekend with them and getting to see my young nephews.
2. Lowrey Field just underwent a million-dollar renovation and I was anxious to see the upgrades.
3. Lake View has been playing in some pretty close games this year and it was going to be interesting  to see how they matched up against a larger school. Not to mention that it was Coronado's homecoming game and they were trying to break a 10-game losing streak dating back to last season.

On another interesting note, the Fall season decided to show up for the weekend. When I left for Lubbock Friday afternoon I was wearing short-sleeves and shorts. When I got into Lubbock I had to change into pants, long-sleeves and a jacket. At game time (8:00pm) the temperature hovered around 50-degrees and the wind was blowing between 15-20 miles-per-hour. Chilly to say the least. Thank goodness the rain had already past over because there's nothing worse than shooting an assignment in a downpour with more than $10,000 worth of digital equipment to worry about.

For much of the game, Lake View and Coronado just traded the ball back and forth. Coronado held a 10-0 lead until Lake View's Juan Luna intercepted a Coronado pass on the 43-yardline. On the ensuing Lake View possession, Luna (who made the interception to set up the drive) caught a 28-yard pass from Brandon Lee on a flee-flicker with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter making the score 10-7 Coronado. Unfortunately, that's where Lake View's scoring attempts would end.  About a minute later Coronado scored on a 8-yard rushing touchdown to lead 16-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Coronado would score twice more in the fourth quarter on 9- and 28-yard passes to finish out the game with a 30-7 win.

A game like this shouldn't be viewed so much as a loss, but a learning experience for Lake View. This was a non-district game for Lake View because Coronado is a Class 6A school, so it doesn't have playoff implications. Coronado also has a lot of speed and showed Lake View where their defense and offense need work. Yes, it hurts to lose, but the important thing for Lake View is to implement what they learned from the game and carry that over to their upcoming game against Midland Greenwood on Friday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 Friday (Saturday) Night Football Week 2 (Part 2): Central vs. Byron Nelson

And so, here we are again at "The House that Jerry Built", AT&T Stadium in Arlington, home of the Dallas Cowboys. I know I say this every time I post a blog of a game held in this stadium, but this place is amazing. I'm not even a Cowboys fan, but I can appreciate the beauty of this place. Aside from the enormous size of the place and having to walk five miles to get anywhere you want to go, I would happily cover every game this stadium hosts. The media facilities are first-class, the lighting is beautiful and there is no bad place to take a photo. Truly, you have to see it for yourself.

Saturday morning I was to cover Central High School's game against DFW's Byron Nelson at the Southwest Showcase, a two-day series of high school games to showcase the state's talent. Central was the lone West Texas representative in the Showcase and not only wanted to give a good showing, but also wanted to prove they could hang with the big DFW schools. Central hadn't won a game against a Metroplex school since 1991 and were desperate to get over that hump.

The atmosphere at the stadium was primed and ready for a good game, each team eager to have a good showing on the largest stage they had ever played on. Byron Nelson got out to a fast start scoring a touchdown on just the second play of the game with the help of a long kickoff return and a Central penalty. Central held tough though and managed to match scores knotting the game 14-14 before Byron Nelson scored on back-to-back drives to take a 28-14 lead at the half. The script of this game was beginning to look eerily familiar as the previous games Central had against Metroplex schools that knocked them out of the playoffs the past two years.

Central was going to need a "come to Jesus" meeting in the locker room and have their defense step up a notch in the second half to get the result they wanted. Now, I don't want to think ill of any of our teams, but I was on the fence as to whether the Bobcats were going to get any momentum in the second half. I did, however, pick Central to win this game in our weekly newsroom pick-it line so I wasn't ready to give up hope just yet.

Apparently, the team did have that "come to Jesus" meeting because they came back out on the field more determined than ever. Central started the second half with a 79-yard drive which included a 43-yard pass reception for a touchdown to wide receiver Cody Fielder. Byron Nelson turned the ball over on downs on Central's 38-yard line on the following drive and, with the momentum of the game now on their side, Central marched down the field again to set up Khalil Antoine's tying touchdown. The excitement from the Central fans was reaching a fever pitch and it was now anyone's ballgame.

The Central defense held firm again in the fourth quarter allowing the offense to stay on the field which set up a 6-yard run from Central quarterback Braden Hucks into the end zone for the go-ahead score. Central again forced a turnover on downs getting the ball on their own 7-yardline and managed key plays to keep the clock running as time dwindled away. The only thing left to do was to set up in the victory formation and cruise to a 35-28 win. The Central players and fans went nuts. It was truly an awesome sight to see and be a part of. Hopefully this win will give Central the confidence they need to beat the next Metroplex team they meet. Perhaps in the playoff?