Friday, October 30, 2015

2015 Friday Night Football: Central vs. Odessa High

I almost forgot to put up this blog post, but fortunately I have a little time on my hands (finally) to get some photos up before Central's game this evening. Last week I hit the road with fellow Standard-Times colleague Quinton Martinez bound for Ratliff Stadium in Odessa. The Central High School Bobcats were playing in a District 3-6A  game against Odessa High. Every game during district play is important for the Bobcats as they are vying for another district championship. Abilene High and Odessa Permian are the two main competitors for the Bobcats in the district.

Winning the game wasn't the only thing on the minds of Bobcat players and fans in attendance that night. Earlier in the week, tragedy struck the school when a senior band member, Noah Whitaker, and a former Central football player, Cesar Castillo, who graduated in May, were involved in a head-on collision. Both teenagers died from their injuries sending a shock wave of grief through the school and community. My wife, a junior English teacher at Central, said that it was a rough couple of days at school following the announcement. To honor the students the football team wore black "C.C." stickers on their helmets for Cesar Castillo and the marching band observed a moment of silence for Noah Whitaker before beginning their halftime show.

Yes, the heart of Bobcat Nation was hurting and the loss of Whitaker and Castillo will be felt for a awhile, but dwelling on the pain is no way of living and the Bobcats wanted to honor their memory... with a victory.

The Bobcats jumped on Odessa right from the start of the game. In a span of 2:34 in the first quarter the Bobcats led Odessa 15-0 spurred by a fumble recovery by senior defensive lineman Dylan Parsee. The ball was dislodged by Donnie Bowers after he hit Odessa quarterback Jonathan Franco. Three plays later Central quarterback Brennen Wooten found Will Grindstaff in the end zone on a 27-yard pass. The second quarter saw Odessa make a little comeback, outscoring Central 14-7 to pull within 22-14 at the half. It would be the only points scored by Odessa for the rest of the game.

After making a few adjustments during halftime, Central went on their usual second half scoring spree. Brennen Wooten threw for three touchdown and ran for two more, finishing the game with a total 404 yards (358 passing, 46 rushing). Khalil Antoine led the Bobcats on the ground with 93 yards rushing while Daven Manning added 39. Will Grindstaff finished the night with a team-high 88 yards receiving and a touchdown. When it was all said and done, Central came out with a 43-14 win improving their record to 7-1, 2-1 in District 3-6A.

After the game, Quinton managed to get a quick interview with Mark Chester, defensive coordinator for the Bobcats, and asked him about the team's mindset heading into the game after a difficult week at school. "It was a tough week because we are a very close football program," Chester said. "It was hard on a lot of people. We tried to keep him (Castillo) and his family in our thoughts and prayers this week. Our kids held it together and wanted to honor Cesar. They played with great effort and pride, just like he did."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Friday Night Football: Central vs. Midland High

For Week 8 of the high school football season I was back out at San Angelo Stadium covering the Central High School Bobcats as they hosted Midland High in a District 3-6A game. Now that we are deep into the season, most schools are starting their district games and these are the ones that matter the most. Winning district games determines whether or not your team continues into the postseason. Central started their district schedule a week ago with an unfortunate 31-24 loss to Abilene High. It was also their first loss of the season. Hoping to regain a little of their mojo, The Bobcats needed to come out swinging against Midland High to set themselves up to stay in the hunt for a piece of the district title. I'll get into a little more of the game here in a bit, but first, lets talk about the student section.

Central has an amazing student section, probably one of the best I've seen. They pack an entire section near the field on the north end of the stadium. They stand the entire game, they're loud and chant along with the cheerleaders. This year they have started something I've not seen them do before and it has caught me off guard every time I see it. As the Bobcats are about to take the field the students do a chant and as soon as the players make their starting run onto the field, the student toss handfuls of white powder and confetti into the air. It's quite a spectacle to see. Sadly though, there's a rumor that this show of student involvement may come to an end due to certain administrative pressure.

To whom it may concern: Please let this be a thing. Don't kill their joy.

(This is the part of the blog post where I have to say that all opinions expressed here are my own and that I have absolutely no authority or influence over the decisions made on this topic. I'm only advocating for this because, well, lets face it, after shooting high school football for the last 12 seasons I need something new visually, and I've decided the put all my eggs into one basket and back the CHS student section in this matter. Again, not that my opinion counts.)

Now to the the game.

As most of their games have gone this year, it was all Central. Granted, the first quarter started out a little slow as the Bobcats had to settle for a field goal on their opening drive and one touchdown late in the quarter to lead 10-7. But after the first quarter, the Central offensive machine went to work. Here's a recap of the game's scoring drives for both Central and Midland:

1st Quarter
Central - Marc Cabrera 22yd field goal, 10:08 remaining
Midland - Courtney McMaryion 50yd pass from Jackson Anuszkiewicz (Adrian Campos kick), 5:46 remaining
Central - Khalil Antoine 10yd run (Marc Cabrera kick), 2:30 remaining

2nd Quarter
Central - Brennen Wooten 7yd run (Cabrera kick), 9:01 remaining
Central - Daven Manning 9yd run (Cabrera kick), 5:34 remaining
Midland - McMaryion pass from Anuszkiewicz (kick failed), 3:29 remaining
Central - Daven Manning 7yd run (Cabrera kick), 1:50 remaining
Central - Adam West 8yd pass from Wooten (Cabrera kick), 0:53 remaining

3rd Quarter
Central - Manning 72yd run (Cabrera kick), 10:37 remaining
Central - West 29yd pass from Wooten (Cabrera kick), 9:52 remaining
Central - West 25yd pass from Wooten (Cabrera kick), 2:52 remaining

4th Quarter
Midland - Jalen Childress 75yd pass from Brady Bolger (2-point conversion failed), 4:10 remaining
Midland - Childress 15yd pass from Bolger (2-point conversion), 1:07 remaining

Once again Central displayed their offensive dominance and defensive stoutness. Starting quarterback Brennen Wooten finished the game with 306 yards of passing hitting receivers Aaron Wooten (123 yards), Cal Vincent (91 yards), Adam West (62 yards), Manny Villanueva (13 yards), Will Grindstaff (7 yards), Tommy Aych (7 yards) and Daven Manning (3 yards). On the ground Daven Manning led the Bobcats with 104 yards backed by Khalil Antoine (82 yards), Brennen Wooten (16 yards), Cal Vincent (10 yards) and Manny Villanueva (3 yards).

The Central defense was consistently in the backfield putting pressure on the Midland quarterback producing five sacks on the night led by defensive end Dylan Parsee who had an interception and a forced fumble, which Central recovered.

All in all, it was a good night for the Bobcats who took the 59-27 win and improved to 6-1 for the season, 1-1 in District 3-6A play. This week the Bobcats travel to Odessa to take on Odessa High at Ratliff Stadium. There is rain in the forecast (I'm not excited about that) so it'll be interesting to see how Central's pass-based offense handles that. But with Daven Manning and Khalil Antoine putting up big numbers on the ground last week, I'm sure the Bobcats have got a game plan for the occasion.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Friday Night Football: Eden vs. Robert Lee

The high school football season is moving right along and for Week 7 of the season I headed out to Eden, about 40 miles south of San Angelo, for the Bulldogs' match-up with Robert Lee. These schools represent two of our smaller teams in our coverage area so that means they play six-man football. Photographing six-man games can be fun and frustrating at the same time. It's fast, action-packed and anything can happen in a blink of the eye so you have to be a sniper when it comes to photography.

Eden got off to a slow start, turning over the ball several times and not gaining much momentum. Robert Lee capitalized on those mistakes and scored just about every time they touched the ball. Robert Lee quickly jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter and it looked like it was going to be an early night for everyone. In six-man football, if a team is leading by 45 or more points at the half the game is over. I was fully expecting this game to be done by the half, but Eden managed to score twice with just 32 seconds left in the first quarter making the score 24-14. Now we had a game on our hands.

Unfortunately, Eden wasn't able to control the Robert Lee scoring onslaught and allowed the Steers to score three more touchdowns in the second quarter making it 44-14 to end the half. The second half of the game wasn't any better for Eden and the game ended with two minutes left in the third quarter as Robert Lee went on to win 65-20 by the 45-point mercy rule. I didn't get to see any of the second half because I was on my way back to the office for editing duties. Fortunately for Eden, this was a nondistrict game so the loss won't count against their record for a chance to get into the playoffs.