The Eldorado Eagles defeated TLC Academy (TLCA) 42-7 last Friday night, improving their district record to 5-0 and securing Eldorado’s first outright district title since 1997.
Depending on who you asked, the Eagles were picked to place either fourth or fifth in District 6-1A when the 2012 football season began. And, after losing three out of four non-district games, few could have predicted the 5-0 swath the Warbirds would cut through the heart of their district schedule, beginning with the defending district champion Bronte Longhorns, who the Eagles dispatched 20-6 on their home field in a driving rain storm.
Eldorado then defeated Christoval, Menard and Miles on their way to last week’s showdown with TLCA.
Friday night’s matchup promised to be a slugfest. TLCA’s Brandon Garcia came into the game as the district’s leading rusher with more than 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns in only seven games.
For their part, the Eagles brought an arsenal of running backs and receivers on a team loaded with 15 seniors. On top of that, the Warbirds’ defensive unit was the toughest in the district.
And...Eldorado’s defense came to play, forcing five fumbles while recovering three. Brandon Garcia was able to gain 151 yards on the night for TLCA, but he only had one long run for 51 yards, and the Eagles defense did not let him score.
“Brandon Garcia is a big, bruising running back,” Eagles head football coach Danny Wilhelm said after the game. “He runs violently, twists and spins. We were able to contain him and force some fumbles.”
Eldorado’s defensive secondary also contributed to the victory as they held TLCA quarterback Alex Garcia to a single completion on 11 attempts. One of his errant passes would add to Eldorado’s point total as Brian Shriver leapt high in the air to pull down an interception before weaving his way through a sea of would-be tacklers en route to a 44-yard touchdown return.
Offensively, the Eagles just had too many weapons for TLCA. Seven different players carried the ball for Eldorado combining for 340 yards rushing, 15 first downs and five touchdowns.
Blaine Mitchell was the Eagles leading rusher with 128 yards on 12 carries, the longest a 58 yard scamper. He also scored three of Eldorado’s six touchdowns.
Despite the lopsided final score, the game actually got off to a slow start for both teams as they exchanged possessions throughout the first quarter.
All of that changed, however in the second period when Ruben Vazquez sprinted 36 yards to end zone, giving the Eagles a 6-0 lead.
When TLCA failed to sustain its next drive, the Eagles answered with a pair of TDs in less than a minute. The first came on a 23 yard run by Mitchell. The second on Shriver’s spectacular interception and return. Bobby Martinez hauled in a pass from
Mitchell for a two-point conversion after the first of those scores, and Hector Reyes booted the extra point after the second to give the Eagles a 21-0 lead with 2:55 remaining in the first half.
Dylan Ramos scored the first points of the second half when he raced 16 yards to the end zone with 4:05 left in the third quarter. Reyes added the extra point and Eldorado led 28-0.
The TLCA team was determined not to be shut out, however, and they drove the football deep in to Eldorado territory where Darion Thomas scored on a 25 yard run. Stefan Miller added the extra point to make the score 28-7 in favor of Eldorado.
From there on in, the game belonged to the Eagles, even as Coach Wilhelm began substituting in some of his younger players.
Mitchell would score two more times in the game beginning with a 36 yard run with 10:26 remaining. Reyes was good on the extra point and the Eagles pulled out to a 35-7 lead.
Mitchell would find pay dirt once more, this time on his longest run of the night when he raced in from the TLCA 42-yard line for a 58 yard TD run. And, Reyes made good on the extra point try to give the Eagles their 42-7 margin of victory.
“This was a big one for us,” Coach Wilhelm commented afterward. “It’s always good to make the playoffs, but to wrap up a district championship while everyone else has two games left to play...well, that feels really good.”
Wilhelm couldn’t say enough good things about his team. “I’m so proud of these guys, they came out and worked hard all year long. They adopted the motto Make History or Be History and they took it to heart. I’m pleased for them that they were able to achieve their goal of winning a district championship.”
The coach went on to say that it would be hard to over estimate the importance of senior leadership on the team. “We have 15 seniors and they set the pace for the rest of the team. We challenged them to get a little better each week and the team bought into it.”
Wilhelm noted that except for one play in the Harper game and another in the Kermit game, the Eagles could easily have won two of the three non-district games they lost early in the season.
“We’re going to rest up this week and heal up a little bit, although we’re actually pretty healthy,” Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm noted that Alejandro Dominguez, who has been recovering from a knee sprain, should be back in the line up next week
when the Eagles host the Irion County Hornets in the final regular season game.
That’s senior night, and we’re looking forward to that,” Wilhelm added. “Then we get another bye before heading into the playoffs. You have to like the way this is shaping up.”