Devine mashes Memorial 44-23 in home opener

For the second consecutive game, the Warhorses took the opening kickoff then methodically ran the ball down their opponent’s throat, ending their drive with a Devine touchdown and a lead that would stand for the entirety of their 44-23 victory over the San Antonio Memorial Minutemen.
Ethan Santos ran 8-yards with only 2:49 melted away on the first quarter clock. Santos and Gabriel Esquibel each scored two touchdowns in the first half, giving Devine a comfortable 28-7 lead at halftime.
The Horses stand at 2-0 on the young season with a home tilt against YMLA this Friday at Warhorse Stadium. Kickoff is 7:00pm instead of the usual 7:30pm.
Head Coach Paul Gomez began his analysis of the big win saying, “We had way too many penalties, especially in the third quarter that stalled a couple of possible scoring drives but I told the guys after the game that I wanted them to enjoy the win because the preparation to get the win was not easy.”
Esquibel scored his first touchdown with 2:56 left in the first quarter and his second with only 0:18 left in the first half. Santos sandwiched his second touchdown between Esquibel’s with 10:55 remaining in the first quarter.
After Memorial closed the gap to 28-15, Contreras added his lone touchdown on a 6-yard run with 5:18 remaining in the ballgame. The Minutemen scored on a quick drive with 2:26 left, but made the unwise decision to onside the football in senior Brady Hackebeil’s direction.
Hackebeil, who rushed for over 1,000 yards a year ago and is more than capable of running the football, fielded the bouncing ball at the Warhorse 40-yard line. Hackebeil bopped, weaved, cut, and broke would-be tackles on his way to taking it 60 yards for the last score of the ballgame and closing out the 19-point victory.
Devine won the game by a decisive margin, that is not in dispute. Gomez, however, always wants more…as does most of Warhorse Nation.
“We lost at least 160 yards rushing and a few touchdowns because of penalties which in turn gave Memorial some momentum to get back into the game. We became complacent and that led to all of the mistakes and penalties,” Gomez said about the possibility of cracking the 50-point barrier in back-to-back ballgames.
Flag core
It is possible that maybe all mistakes were not necessarily made by the players as some questionable holding calls made by game officials stalled a couple of Warhorse drives as well.
“It is a shame that our blocks looked good on film and appeared to be nothing different than how Memorial was blocking, but we kept getting calls against us and especially from the ref on their sideline,” Gomez said with a little editing included for the younger readers. “It was frustrating, but we put things back together in the fourth quarter to get into the end zone a couple of more times.”
“Overall, we keep putting up big numbers on offense and that has a lot to do with our offensive line and tight ends. They are getting better all the time and even though we continue to make some mistakes, we cover up those mistakes with great effort as a unit. These guys will continue to get better every game,” Gomez said about the ‘phats’ up front in Kannon Ramirez, Kolt Hackebeil, Rafael Estala, Jared Fernandez, Carter Faubel, Carlos DeLuna, Hadyn Brumage, and Corey Dirck along with tight ends Aaron Saenz, Nick Ortiz, Mason Martinez, and Aaron Bonilla.
“Whether it is one of our linemen or a tight end, or even one of our running backs blocking as hard as you can so one of your brothers make the big run, they all contributed to our outstanding rushing stats. And that is also why I have so much respect for our linemen, because their names are never announced for touchdowns or big runs but they are the foundation for our success.”
Warhorse backs doing dirty work along with the linemen are Ethan Santos, Gabriel Esquibel, Xavier Contreras, Nate Ramirez, Marcus Rodriguez, Luke Friesenhahn, Aiden Zapata, Hayden DuBose, and Gus Puente.
Keep away
Devine’s ball-control offense wilted the Minutemen defense, rushing the ball 48 times for 352 yards in comparison to Memorial carrying 25 times for only 40 yards. In addition the two touchdowns apiece scored by Santos and Esquibel, Xavier Contreras also rushed for a score.
The Warhorses continue to string together impressive drives throughout their 48-minute contests. Devine has scored 63 first half points with an up-tempo offense that has put defenses on their heels until halftime. By the time the opponent has caught their breath at the break, both games have been already somewhat put out of reach.
Special times
“Our special teams is solid once again,” Gomez said in general about his kickoff, kick return, punt return and extra point teams. “We had good returns on kickoffs and limited their return yardage when we kicked or punted. We have to give our deep guy, Nate Ramirez, a better chance to get some returns for us in order to utilize his speed in the open field. What can you say about our hands team! Last week Luke Friesenhahn saves us with Highlands’s onside kicks then Friday his cousin Brady picks up an onside and takes it to the house!! Caden Hanson also converted all four of his extra point attempts. We need to keep this going and keep getting better.”
Memorial had no choice but to onside after their final touchdown if they truly still believed they had a shot at upsetting the favored Warhorses, but they definitely pinned their hopes of a bobbled-ball on the wrong Devine returner.
“I think we had a great scheme and for the most part, we played hard,” Gomez said in reference to the Warhorse defensive review. “If we take away the big run and the long pass for touchdowns Memorial had, we really played a sound game defensively. We have to begin to eliminate those types of big plays to not put ourselves in bad situations. We have to begin by trusting out reads, react to the right spot, then tackle, and wrap up. I have 100% confidence that Coach Villa and his defensive coaches will improve in those areas. They have a chance to be special, but it’s going to take a lot of work!”
The Horses went back to work on Labor Day prepping for another triumphant Friday night outcome. Devine is not known to rest on its laurels, so expect Gomez and the rest of the Warhorse coaching staff to not let their players become content with their early successes.
Mental mistakes made and a fumbled snap should not happen according to Gomez due to the amount of reps devoted to eliminating those things during practices.
“We need to keep getting better and understanding why we have been successful. I say it all the time but it is very true that games are won during the week with hard work and preparation. Friday should just be a read and react and not so much a thinking thing. Winning starts Monday through Wednesday with Thursday being a mental day and then we are ready to go. I am excited to see the improvement that we will show,” Gomez said in closing.
Not so deep snap
Well, it only took two ballgames but we know whom Devine’s punter is now…kind of. After not having to punt in their season-opening victory against San Antonio Highlands, the Warhorses had to boot it twice after not converting two third-down opportunities.
Brady Hackebeil is the Warhorse starting quarterback, but doubles as a “punter” from time to time as well. On fourth downs, Devine sometimes tries to draw the defense off sides, and if the opponent does not cross the neutral zone, Brady will take a couple of steps back, receive the snap, and ‘pooch-kick’ the ball down field.
Punt-per-yard averages will not ever be gaudy out of this formation as Hackebeil is not able to take the aggressive approach people see most punters take before putting their foot into the ball. The designed play, however, does keep the defense honest and does not allow them to set up a normal return, reducing the chance of a big return.
Devine’s deep snap punter is Peyton Carr, who has yet to punt in an actual game but is ready when necessary.
Here’s hoping we do not see that deep-snap formation for at least another couple of ballgames down the road.
Coach speak
“I was very pleased with my tight end performances last Friday night. Mason Martinez got most of the snaps against Memorial. We did a solid job of executing our blocks. Arron Bonilla’s performance was much improved. Overall I was very pleased with our effort and we will continue to work hard.”—Bart Oropeza
“The coaching staff was extremely pleased with the kids’ effort Friday night. Our goal going into the ballgame was to be more aggressive than the week before and to have fewer mistakes. Besides the beginning of the third quarter, we did just that. Our stable of running backs excelled when their number was called to run the ball. I love to see them always falling forward and breaking tackles. They take pride in trying to get extra yards. I am proud of no fumbles again this week. We did a better job blocking. I have to give a special shout out to Xavier Contreras for one pancake and Aiden Zapata with two pancakes!!!! We will continue to improve on our blocking and try to eliminate penalties.”—Evan Eads
Up next
Devine vs YMLA kickoff is set for 7:00pm at Warhorse Stadium. Maroon it Out!!!
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer