Devine blasts Rockets out of Warhorse Stadium with convincing 41-24 victory

Senior Grant Collins rushed for 176 yards and scored one touchdown while sophomore Justin Contreras scored twice leading the Devine Warhorses to a season opening 41-24 victory over the visiting San Antonio Kennedy Rockets Friday night at Warhorse Stadium. Guido Zapata and Chad Lawson added a touchdown apiece in the decisive win.
“It was a big win for us on Friday,” said Head Coach Paul Gomez. “To start the season with a win, especially at Warhorse Stadium, was definitely important for us as a staff and as a team. We were a little sloppy at times, especially with the fumbles on offense and some missed tackles on defense. We need to clean those areas up this week.”
A 21-point first half gave the Horses plenty of cushion midway through the contest. Contreras put Devine up 7-0 on a 26-yard run with 6:28 remaining in the first frame. Devine’s defense in pitching a first-half shutout enabled the offense to settle in to the flow of the game and add two more scores before intermission.
In a 6 ½ minute span in the second quarter, the Warhorse got a Lawson to Zapata touchdown on a 27-yard completion for a score followed by a Lawson nine yard run close to the halftime buzzer to build the three-touchdown lead.
Although Kennedy scored twice in the third quarter, Contreras’s 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown negated the Rocket’s first score of the contest and any momentum they may have gained from that score. Collins and Zapata each scored in the fourth quarter to cap off the 41-point outburst.
“The main focus for our guys this past week was to play hard and be disciplined,” continued Gomez. “I was very happy with our effort. Our kids played hard! Even when we made mistakes, we made them playing full speed. Grant was our workhorse while Guido was our big play guy. They both delivered when called upon by making some great plays.
Chad did a tremendous job directing the offense and making the correct reads. When we did pass the ball, he put it right on the money. I think Justin’s big play on the kickoff return and his ability to run the ball in between the tackles was a pleasant surprise for us. We have some guys that can make big plays for us so it is good when we can share the wealth on offense.
Sergio Martinez and Xsavior Martinez did a great job blocking at the fullback position. Xsavior is another fast kid that had a chance to show his speed the other night with a nice 13 yd. run. He will definitely get more chances to run the ball for us.
I think our O-line did a good job of working together as a unit. Honestly, going into the season that unit was one of question marks. The two seniors (Tristan Ortiz and Mason Perez), the two sophomores (Lupe Rodriguez and Aaron Rivera) and a lone junior (Jesus Hernandez) in the starting rotation to continue to improve early in the season which is huge for our running and passing games. Our backs rushed for over 300yds Friday night, which proves they are definitely doing something right!
Our tight end group consisting of Zackariuh Bocanegra, Dakota Wofford, and Christian Gerlach had key blocks and they continue to improve daily. I thought Coach PJ Wells called the right plays at the right time. We had two big plays called back due to unnecessary penalties, if we could add those plays to what we accomplished on offense, I think it was definitely a good night for us.”
Senior standouts
Several seniors stood out the Warhorses. Grant Collins’s 21 carries for 176 yards, one touchdown, and five extra points is definitely noteworthy. His one punt was a field-flipping 50-yard boot that pinned the Rockets inside their own 15 yard line. Fellow seniors Joey Seguin III recovered a Kennedy fumble while Donavon Camacho had two carries for six yards. Donavon’s interception late in the game thwarted a Rocket scoring opportunity.
Guido Zapata contributed 105 all-purpose yards with 58 yards rushing and 47 yards receiving. His 18-yard touchdown run to the left pylon put the finishing touches on the Warhorses 41-point outburst. Chad Lawson carried four times for 13 yards and one score while also passing for 55 yards, completing four of nine attempts.
Jiving juniors
Isaiah Oropeza was johnny-on-the-spot after a forced Kennedy fumble. His recovery in the first quarter led to a Warhorse touchdown on the ensuing possession. Outside linebacker Blaine Miller contributed several tackles on the evening, including a bone-crushing hit on a Rocket receiver near the Kennedy sideline. Jayce Hackebeil recovered a Rocket fumble after the back lost control of the ball at the tail end of a 40-yard run.
Sophomore surprises
Justin Contreras was thrown into the fire as a freshman last season. A depleted Warhorse roster due to injuries forced several young players to go through on-the-job training on Friday nights instead of having the luxury to learn on Thursday evenings. Justin built on last season’s experience in the home opener. His 26-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter put the first points of the season on the Brown Chevrolet scoreboard in the north end zone. Justin tallied 172 all-purpose yards, combining the 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, his 69 yards rushing on 9 carries, and 9 receiving yards on two catches.
Aaron Rivera caused a Rocket fumble that was recovered by the Warhorses. Rivera also had a solid outing on both the offensive and defensive lines. Xsavior Martinez gathered nice return yards on Kennedy kickoffs and rushed once for 13 yards.
He said it
“Well for one it feels way better to start off the season 1-0 than being 0-1. As for the rushing yardage, I just had the mindset that I was going to get every yard I can get to help my team win. I would like to say thank you to my brothers on line, because without them I wouldn’t have gotten those yards.”—running back Grant Collins.
“Guido is one of our most athletic players and one of my favorite receivers to throw to. I know I just need to give him a chance to get the ball and he will get the job done. On the touchdown pass, I looked off the corner and gave a little pump fake before hitting Guido on the corner route for the score. It also feels great to start our season 1-0 after going 0-5 last year. I think it will be a confidence booster for our team and we will build on it and carry our momentum into next week.”—quarterback Chad Lawson.
“Before we left the kickoff return huddle, all that was on my mind was Gomez’s comment that we had to score. I caught the ball, followed Guido to find the hole, and wound up scoring.”—returner Justin Contreras.
Scoring summary
DEV—Justin Contreras 26-yard run (Grant Collins PAT), 6:28, 1st.
DEV—Guido Zapata 27-yard pass from Chad Lawson (Collins PAT), 8:51, 2nd.
DEV—Lawson 9-yard run (Collins PAT), 2:03, 3rd.
KEN—Devin Salazar 1-yard run (PAT failed), 7:44, 3rd.
DEV—Contreras 94-yard kickoff return (PAT failed), 7:28, 3rd.
KEN—Joshua Arguijo 4-yard pass from Angel Sanchez (PAT failed), 3:41, 3rd.
DEV—Collins 37-yard run (Collins PAT), 9:57, 4th.
DEV—Guido Zapata 18-yard run (Collins PAT), 8:15, 4th.
KEN—Arguijo 5-yard pass from Sanchez (2-pt run failed), 5:57, 4th.
KEN—Justin Arriaga 60-yard run (2-pt pass failed), 1:37, 4th.
Up next:
The Warhorses travel to Somerset Friday night to take on the Bulldogs. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer