As cliché as it sounds, football is a team sport.
Anyone who attended Friday night’s Gonzales-Sam Houston game took notice of that. The Hurricanes boasted four Division I-caliber athletes and plenty of speed and size on both sides of the football, but the Apaches just played as a team.
In the end, it was evident that the best team – not the best individual players – won the game as Gonzales dominated Sam Houston, 27-0. All the hype, trash-talking and pregame celebrations didn’t help the Hurricanes one bit as the Apaches manhandled them throughout the contest.
Friday night’s Gonzales-Sam Houston game featured not only a battle of the undefeated, but also District 28-3A’s top two rushing offenses, top two scoring defenses, top two rushing defenses and top two overall defenses. It also featured the top two rushers in the district with Gonzales’ Cecil Johnson on one side and Sam Houston’s JeQuan McBride on the other.
Let’s just say it was a great night for one running back and a forgetful one for the other. Johnson ran for 144 yards and a touchdown to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. He now has 1,061 on the year.
McBride, on the other hand, was the Hurricanes’ leading rusher with 10 yards on eight carries – a season-low. As a team, Sam Houston rushed for a season-low 17 yards on 24 carries.
The Apaches were simply dominant on defense as they not only held the Hurricanes to a season-low in rushing yards and points, but also total yards (106) and first downs (4). Prior to the fourth quarter, Sam Houston had one first down on an offsides penalty and failed to complete a pass.
The Hurricanes fared a little better on defense as Gonzales was held to less than 40 points and 300 yards for the first time this season. But, the Apaches still found their way into the endzone and they did so by lining up and running straight at the opposition.
One of the key matchups in the Gonzales offense vs. the Sam Houston defense was Apaches’ left tackle Cody Jurek blocking Hurricanes’ defensive end Javonte Magee. Magee is being recruited by several big-name colleges, while Jurek has been under the big-school recruiting radar.
But Jurek will get plenty of notice after his performance Friday night. He knocked Magee on his back several times, and when I asked Jurek how many times he pancaked Magee, he couldn’t remember.
Of course, when you’re dominating someone the way Gonzales dominated Sam Houston, it’s easy to lose count of something like pancake blocks. One of the best pancake blocks of the night occurred when Apaches’ fullback Landon Lock, who weighs 200 lbs., knocked 280-lb Prince Eshan on his back during a goalline running play.
Lock’s pancake block of a player who outweighs him by nearly 100 lbs. wasn’t the highlight of his evening, however. He made several blocks from his fullback position, and also contributed defensively as he was in on numerous tackles, blocked a punt and sacked Hurricanes’ quarterback Jhurell Jackson on Sam Houston’s last official carry of the night.
Following the victory, school song and postgame speech, a teary-eyed Lock kneeled down on the field and prayed. Once he gathered himself, Lock thanked the Gonzales fans for their support, and labeled them, “the best fans in high school football.”
On a somber note, Johnson will not have the opportunity to add to his district-leading rushing total tonight. That’s because the Apaches have a bye this week.
Gonzales will put its undefeated record on the line again on Oct. 21 when the Apaches travel to Pleasanton. If Gonzales beats Pleasanton and Sam Houston loses one of its next two games, the Apaches will clinch a playoff spot.
As the 28-3A race unfolds over the next few weeks, we will see if Gonzales is indeed the best team in the district.