Warhorses domesticate Wildcats 45-7, capture District championship

The Devine Warhorses wrapped up the District 14-4A DII championship by defeating the host Carrizo Springs Wildcats 45-7 down south last Friday night. The Horses finished a perfect 5-0 throughout league competition, boosting their overall record to 6-4 on the season.
Head Coach Paul Gomez was especially excited about the victory and his team’s championship performance saying, “Special night this past Friday in Carrizo Springs. Our guys played hard and stayed focused. There was no let down. We went in to Carrizo and took care of business. Our seniors have been great leaders this year and we went out and did what we were supposed to do.
Devine took the opening kickoff to start the game. Eleven plays later, Brady Hackebeil hit pay-dirt from 14-yards out to give the Horses a 7-0 lead with 6:23 left in the first quarter as Jacob Featherly added the point after attempt.
A common theme for the night was how well Devine’s defense played. After forcing Carrizo Springs to punt on their first possession, quarterback Brady Hackebeil hit flex receiver Mason Burford on a 61-yard crossing pattern on the first play from scrimmage. That homerun ball came at the 3:06 mark of the first quarter giving the Horses a 13-0 advantage.
After the next Carrizo punt and on the second play of the possession, Justin Contreras used a solid block from little brother Xavier to burst loose for a 61-yard scoring run. Devine led 19-0.
The Wildcats muffed the ensuing kickoff and Warhorse Sergio Martinez was there to trounce on the loose ball. Justin Contreras, Aaron Rivera, and Martinez had big, touchdown producing blocks on Buddy Santos’s 19-yard run with 9:20 left in the half.
Sergio had a great night offensively, defensively, and on special teams. It only seems fitting that he get in on the scoring parade. Shortly before halftime, Sergio put six more points on Devine’s side of the scoreboard, increasing Devine’s lead to 32-0 at the break.
Isaiah Oropeza tacked on a 19-yard pass to Justin midway through the third quarter and Xsavior Martinez put the final touches on the Warhorse’s big night with a 6-yard run early in the fourth to close out Devine’s scoring.
Carrizo added a late score to get the goose egg off the scoreboard but it was way too little, way too late. Devine won 45-7 and face Llano in Bi-District Friday night in New Braunfels. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm.
In passing
Devine produced a 100-yard receiver without having a 100-yard quarterback. That is part of the beauty of being able to platoon two quality players like Isaiah Oropeza and Brady Hackebeil behind center.
“Our passing game was great as Mason Burford had over a hundred yards receiving for the night. This is a good sign as we will have to throw it some in the playoffs to keep the defenses honest, or they will start loading up the box,” Gomez stated.
Burford’s biggest catch of the night was on a 61-yard scoring strike from Brady Hackebeil that got the Horses back on the board quickly after a Carrizo punt.
The defense does not rest
The Warhorse defense was in full force Friday. Carrizo Springs was not able to gain the length of the football field in total yardage, getting only 77 on the night. The Wildcats also earned only seven first downs compared to Devine’s 20 times they were able to move the chains.
The Wildcats 28 rushing attempts netted only 51 total yards for a meager 1.82 yards per carry. Although they completed three of six passes, it only accumulated 26 yards.
Maybe the best thing Carrizo Springs did was punt the ball, hitting it six times for 178 net yards.
Special Team Coordinator Scott Taylor has been pleased with his group’s effort the last several weeks. Friday was no exception.
“Special teams played well,” understated Coach Taylor. “Sergio Martinez continues to make big plays and rack up tackles. He had a fumble recovery along with two tackles. Jacob Featherly was three for five on extra points. Shout-out to Buddy Santos and Blaine Miller for not quitting on the blocked extra point and chasing down the ball carrier to keep from giving up two points another time. Mason Burford had four punt returns for a total of 30 yards. He’s doing a great job fielding and returning punts.”
One for all
Every week beginning with the brutally hot two-a-days on the first Monday of August, players put their blood, sweat, and tears into practices for the chance to showcase what they can do on the playing field on Friday nights. Unfortunately, not all players get to take the field between the opening kickoff and the final horn each week of the season.
At Carrizo Springs, however, every single Warhorse experienced the joy of getting into the ballgame for one or more snaps. It is a feeling that no player will soon forget.
“Everybody played and contributed to the victory,” Gomez gladly stated. “Our backup players played most of the second half, which was great to see. These guys practice just as hard so it’s always nice to see them get some significant playing time.”
Healthy habit
“It’s good to have a year when you don’t have 10 starters out during the season,” Coach Gomez jokingly stated about this year’s injury report compared to the last couple of seasons. In actuality, however, Gomez’s joke was all but funny as injuries decimated and handicapped the full potential of the last two to three year’s teams.
“What the last two years have taught these young men is to never give up and to always keep fighting. I have to thank many of our former players from the past two years for that. Starting the season 1-4 and having to learn how to win along the way has made this a special journey. It has definitely made these guys better people, not just better football players. This is a very close group and we are not ready for this journey to end quite yet. These guys are excited for the playoffs and that makes a world of difference. Our first goal was to be outright district champions; we did that. Our next goal was to make a run in the playoffs. Well, that starts now.”
Athletic Trainer Ruben “Doc” Alston and his student training staff deserve a huge shout-out for what they do on a daily basis to get kids ready to perform. Many things go on behind the scenes throughout the Warhorse football program, but there is not more one important than the health and safety of those that strap on their helmet every Thursday or Friday night.
That was then, this is now
When a Devine football season starts the season with a 1-4 record, the naysayers tend to come out of the woodwork without ingesting the full scoped of how difficult and challenging the pre-district schedule was.
Bigger schools have deeper talent pools; that’s just a fact. Devine has never and will never shy away from tougher competition as some schools tended to do when the Horses put together several 10-plus win seasons a few years back.
Coaches George Villa (Defensive Coordinator), PJ Wells (Offensive Coordinator), Scott Taylor (Special Team Coordinator) along with position coaches Heath Poppe, Evan Eads, Devin Rotramel, Bart Oropeza, Juan Gonzales, Lon Cozby, Quenton Sanders, and Jacob Sanchez kept putting the pedal to the medal every weekend, every practice, and every game. Players notice that kind of preparation and intensity from their coaches and it morphs into and blends with the effort and desire that all Warhorse players already feel about the game of football.
Gomez took time to praise his coaching staff as well adding, “All of the coaches have done a tremendous job for us this year. Nobody works harder than my coaching staff and I am very grateful to have these guys. They care so much about our program and our players. We are definitely a close-knit staff.”
Congrats coaches! Well deserved!
By Jerel Beaty
Staff Writer