Tigers dominate Southside Cardinals in second half
A Southside Cardinal runner has nowhere to go as he is taken to the ground by a swarm of Floresville Tiger defenders. The Tigers beat Southside 28-7 to claim a share of the district title.
FLORESVILLE -- It was a sweet moment indeed for Coach Jeff Luna and his Floresville Tigers as they secured a piece of the district title for District 29-4A by rolling over the Southside Cardinals 28-7.
As the game began, it was unclear as to who the dominant team might be. Floresville had all the momentum going in, but no team would reach the end zone until the second half. It was all defense, as both the Cardinals and Tigers refused to give, and both teams were kept out of the end zone. As the Tigers headed into the locker room, Luna knew they could do better.
It would be Floresville to strike first in the third quarter. After a 34-yard pass from Colby Shodrock set up a 1-yard run by Cainan Payne, the Tigers would take the lead 7-0. Desperate to hang on to some type of momentum, the Cardinals orchestrated a game-tying drive, which culminated in a 27-yard reception for a touchdown.
With the score now 7-7, a fire seemed to ignite within the Floresville Tigers as they completely took control of the game. On the next possession, Hector Villegas would break free and rush for a 31-yard scamper into the end zone to bring the score to 14-7.
As the Cardinals attempted to regain control of the game, Aaron Laskowski took the game into his own hands as he picked off Southside’s Avila to give the Tigers back control of the ball. Another Tiger drive ended in a 3-yard Villegas touchdown, bringing the lead to 21-7.
At halftime, Luna asked his team to come out and perform, and he wasn’t disappointed. The Tiger defense, under the leadership of linebacker John Handowski, completely sucked any life out of the Cardinals during the second half. Handowski and fellow linebacker Kyle Bippert kept constant pressure on the opposing quarterback, who began to limp, and was slow to get up off the field during the fourth quarter.
Feeling the pressure, Avila began to try and dump off passes quicker, which was all the cue that the Tiger defense needed, as Dadrian Contreras picked him off twice to keep momentum swinging the way of the Tigers. Another Villegas touchdown brought the score to its final of 28-7.
Shodrock went 4 of 10 for 64 yards and threw one interception. Villegas was the leading scorer and rusher of the game, as he rushed 27 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Ruben Benavides and Payne each ran the ball 10 times for 30 and 35 yards, respectively. Travis Tieken, Xavier Lara, and Trey Gillis rounded out the rushers with a combined 16 yards.
On the receiving end, Payne and Mark Livesay combined for 64 yards in the air.
“This was a great win for our kids. We are district co-champions,” Luna said. “[Our secondary] came out to play. Southside was throwing the ball a lot so they were ready for the opportunity to play hard.”
Luna said conditioning played a huge part in the Tigers’ win, as Southside seemed to run out of gas in the fourth quarter.
“It absolutely made a difference,” Luna said. “I’ve always told them we don’t condition much after practice, but we condition hard in practice. Our kids are a four-quarter football team and it showed today.”
This year was Luna’s first as a head coach. Having a winning season and heading to the playoffs is an affirmation of his training and belief in coaching.
“It feels great,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time and it has definitely been worth it. We have a great group of players and we believe in what we are doing.”
The Tigers will head to Corpus Christi Calallen on Friday, Nov. 16, to face the undefeated Port Lavaca-Calhoun Sandcrabs in a bi-district game. The Sandcrabs haven’t faced a loss all season, though they came close during a September game against another Wilson County team, the La Vernia Bears. The Sandcrabs pulled out a 56-40 win at Bear Stadium. Kickoff between the Tigers and Sandcrabs is set for 7:30 p.m.