Shorthanded Warhorses exhibit tremendous determination, fall to Hondo 35-21

With 13 players out of uniform due to injury or violation of team rules, the Devine Warhorses could have easily checked this game up as a loss from the opening kickoff.  That, however, was not even close to being the case as Devine fought back on three different occasions to make the game a one-score contest.

A fourth down touchdown run by Hondo with 2:10 left in the game proved too much for the Warhorses to overcome, losing the game 21 to 35.  This game marked the halfway point of the season and the end of non-district competition.  Devine opens its district schedule at Warhorse Stadium against Lytle on October 13.  Whether the Warhorses entered the Lytle game 5-0 or 0-5, those pre-district games would not have had a significant impact on Devine’s opportunity to give the school its fourth straight district championship.
After Devine had to punt on a 3-and-out on its first possession, Hondo fumbled it back to the Warhorses on its first snap from scrimmage on the Owl 32 yard line.  As Hondo’s quarterback Cole Frazier ran the option left, his pitch went off the facemask of the tailback and bounced toward pursuing Warhorse linebacker Juan Sic.  Sic jumped on the ball to give the Warhorse offense a second early possession of the game.
Quarterback Connor Schmidt scrambled 20 yards on the next play to set up shop at the 12.  Two runs and one incomplete pass later, Warhorse kicker Grant Collins field goal attempt sailed wide left, negating an early scoring opportunity for Devine at the 8:01 mark.
On Hondo’s fourth play of the ensuing drive, Frazier faked a handoff up the middle to his fullback before running 64 yards untouched for the first score of the game.  After the made extra point, Hondo had an early lead of 7-0.
After another 3-and-out by the Warhorse offense, Hondo started an 11-play drive at its own 25.  On a 4th and goal from the 6, Frazier booted left to beat the Warhorse defense to the goal line to give the Owls a 14-0 advantage with 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
Devine battled back.  Luke Torres burst through the Owl defense for a 46-yard gain that took the ball from the Devine 31 to the Hondo 23.  Three plays later, Collins scored from 3 yards out to pull the Warhorse to within 7 points at 7 to 14.  That was the last touchdown for either team in the first half.
Hondo ate up nearly half the 3rd quarter game clock on their second half opening drive.  With 6:24 on the clock, Frazier scored his third touchdown of the game on an attempted sprint out pass that he eventually kept to get into the end zone from 4 yards out.  That score capped another 11-play drive and pushed Hondo’s lead to 21-7.
The following Warhorse drive was maybe their most exciting drive of the season.  Being forced into a punting situation at their own 30, Collins received the snapped ball at the 18 and sprinted right for a Devine 1st down at the 40.  Devine stalled again and had a punting situation near midfield.
On the second faked punt, Luke Torres took the direct snap from his up-back position all the way to the 25 yard line.  Thanks to two successful fake punts, Collins racked up his second touchdown of the game on the next play to pull Devine within 13-21 as the extra point was missed with 2:13 left in the 3rd quarter.
Although Owl running back Javier Gomez scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 1-yard run with 10:16 left in the game to boost Hondo’s lead to 28 to 13, Devine continued to fight.  Noah Brogdon’s 17-yard touchdown reception from Schmidt as well as the following 2-point conversion pass completion from the same tandem of teammates put the game back to a 1-score contest at 21 to 28.
Hondo’s finishing touches on its victory was a 54 yard touchdown run by Gomez on a 4th and short with only 2:10 left in the game.  That score produced the game’s final 14-point Owl margin of victory.
Coach Gomez’s assessment
With adversity from injuries to team infractions to more injuries, Head Coach Paul Gomez spoke in detail regarding his team’s fortitude during a difficult time:
“Yes, it has been a tough five games. I hope our injury luck will change. Losing Jose Fargason to a severe knee injury last Friday against Hondo is going to hurt for the rest of the season. Fargie is a kid that was giving all he had to give. His competitive spirit on the field will be missed, but the team is definitely going to rely on him to be on the sideline coaching up the young players.
With Fargie getting hurt, that put our top three linebackers out of action during pre-district, but like I always say, ‘Next man up!’ We all have to think that way.  Leonard Pompa and Hunter Dougherty did a good job stepping up with their first extended playing time of the season. I am hoping that for our first district ballgame against Lytle we will have our two starting linebackers (Hayden Burwell and Steven Ramirez) back as well as our starting defensive tackles (Reagan Brown and Tristan Ortiz).
Tristan was allowed to play offense only against Hondo due to an injury he sustained against Central Catholic the previous week. We are also hoping to get Randy Schott back from a dislocated wrist injury that occurred in the opener against Boerne. Randy was having a good game versus Boerne before the injury occurred. Randy is another defensive tackle that could help us shut down other offenses early in their drives.  Each of those players also play offensive positions that are in need.
I think our young players who were moved up to varsity for the first time competed well. I was very proud of their effort. We were limited in prep time due to bad weather this week but the kids responded well considering their youth and inexperience at the varsity level.
We did a lot of inside hull work in the weight room; we were able to hit and be physical but it is not the same as being out on the practice field. I am proud of Isaiah Oropeza and Justin Contreras for doing a good job starting on defense and Mason Perez for starting at offensive tackle. Justin is a freshman and Isaiah and Mason were JV starters the week before. They did a great job and did not look out of place.
On the two fake punts during this past ballgame, we were trying to score and we knew it was a crucial drive if we were going to get back in the ballgame with a chance to win. We have been practicing them for a while and Special Team Coordinator Coach Lynn Cozby felt good about the call so we went with it. Both of those calls worked perfectly.
I tell my kids that adversity and struggles will only make you stronger when you overcome them. We will be a stronger and tougher team because of this.”
Devine amassed 341 total yards on 53 plays from scrimmage.  The Warhorses rushed 35 times for 253 yards while passing for an additional 88 yards.  Grant Collins (17 for 115, 2 touchdowns), Luke Torres (7 for 78), Connor Schmidt (6 for 53), Noah Brogdon (3 for 3), and Matthew Ornelas (2 for 4) accounted for the ground game.
Schmidt completed 9 of 18 attempts for the 88 yards with one touchdown pass and two interceptions.  Brogdon (7 for 66) and Chase DuBose (2 for 22) were the two receivers to catch a ball.
Hondo racked up 450 yards total offense on 56 offensive plays, only two of which were passes.  Quarterback Cole Frazier completed one of those for 29 yards in the first half.  The other 421 yards on 54 plays were from Hondo’s rushing game.
Devine forced three turnovers, pushing their season total to 9 through 5 ballgames.  Juan Sic, Matthew Ornelas, and Jared Ferguson helped give the Warhorses additional chances of getting the ball punched into the end zone.
Bulldog Ramirez—Although the outcome of the game was not what any of us wanted, I am extremely proud of every single one of my brothers. The effort, fight, and heart we played with all 4 quarters is something to be recognized.”
Connor Schmidt–I am very proud of the team for fighting during the whole game. I am very proud of the kids we brought up. They did a great job filling the spots and turning it into good competition for those spots. I feel like we are going to do good going into district because we are going to get more people healthy.
Grant Collins—We did not get the results that we were hoping for, but at the same time, we have never been more joined-up as a team.  We are still going to put in the work and continue to improve.
Coach Evan Eads—Offensively, tight ends Jared Ferguson and Jayce Hackebeil are getting better every game which allows us to add to the offense. We saw some good things against Hondo.
Linebackers Hayden Burwell, Bulldog, and now, Fargie, have all suffered injuries.  Hunter Dougherty and Leonard Pompa will be counted upon to step up and make big plays. Brogdon played linebacker for the first time this season and he played well.  All will have to play better at that position during this upcoming district championship run.
Coach PJ Wells—The kids are playing extremely hard and we are getting everything out of them. As a team, we need to continue to improve our execution every week. In doing so, we will give ourselves great opportunities for success in district play.
The right mindset
Noah Brogdon was the key speaker at the Pep Rally Friday.  If there is a single sole out there that contemplates not rooting for the Warhorses during their drive for a district championship, maybe Noah’s words and perspective that he expressed in front of a packed gym will change your mind.  His words:
“I want to read a bible verse for y’all.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4.
This verse means that although we go through pain that is too much for our own understanding, we should not fear the time to come.  He is always with us.  Same goes for this team.  No matter the challenge, no matter the difficulty, I have more faith than I have ever had in these guys.  I love each and every one of my teammates; good or bad, we are a family.”
Noah has been a tremendous leader throughout the season.  Each of the players gravitate toward him for advice and Noah instills belief in every player that they are able to perform at a high level.
Noah continued to share his strong feelings for his teammates and coaches as he posted this to Twitter Tuesday evening:
“I feel like people have lost sight of the true meaning of football.  We are so caught up in the wins and losses that we lose track of what the sport is all about.  Football teaches young men what it means to fight through adversity and struggles in their life.  When they become men with families of their own and when the going gets tough, they will not be the ones to quit.
Kids will not remember what record their team had while they were in high school but they will remember the memories shared with their teammates.  Football brings the most unlikely of friends together to become brothers for life.”
Closing thoughts
Noah’s overall outlook not only from last week’s pep rally and Tuesday night’s Twitter post but also throughout the season beginning with two-a-days says a whole lot about what a great young man he is.  Actually, the Warhorse football team is overflowing with remarkable kids who pour their heart and soul into every practice, every film session, and every ballgame.  It is mostly filled with kids that truly care about each other as if each were all blood brothers.  Each of their parents should be proud of the team unity they are focusing on each day and every moment they spend together.
I understand fans are disheartened when the Warhorses do not win.  For those who are, the players are dispirited even more so.  The difference?  The players are not visibly showing defeat but rather they have chosen to continue to fight with everything they have to turn this season around.
Devine’s community and student body should not only continue to support these players and this team through what has been a difficult first half to the season, but everyone should continue their unending support because, most importantly, the young men that go to battle every Friday night have not given up on each other.  Nor will they.
Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer