The Eldorado Eagles proved to be more than a match last Friday night for the heavily favored Bronte Longhorns as the two football teams fought it out through a driving rain storm that lasted the entire game.
Fortunately, the game was played in Bronte’s stadium on their new “field turf,” otherwise, it would have turned into a muddy mess. As it was, the field drained well and the footing was good throughout the contest.
But, the high-dollar turf did not prevent the ball from becoming slippery as the both teams put the pigskin on the ground multiple times. It was the Eagles, however, who made the most of their opportunities, scoring three touchdowns before the half.
Meanwhile, Eldorado’s defensive unit kept the Longhorns on their heels most of the game and forced several Bronte turnovers.
“I was really pleased with how our defense played,” Eagles head coach Danny Wilhelm commented afterward. “They came to play and took Bronte out of the game early.”
Defensively, Jackson O’Harrow was the leading tackler with eight, followed by Will Barker and Edward Hernandez who each tallied five and a half tackles.
Meanwhile, Blaine Mitchell, Camron Capps and Bobby Martinez each recovered a fumble for the Eagles while Bailey Espinosa intercepted a Ty Lee pass to stymie another Longhorn drive.
Eldorado won the coin toss and deferred until the second half allowing Bronte to choose to receive the opening kickoff. Bailey Espinosa delivered a bone jarring tackle on the return and the Longhorns set up shop at their own 27 yard line.
The Eagles defense made its presence known early, shutting down Bronte’s opening drive on three straight downs and forcing a punt.
The two teams then exchanged punts giving Eldorado the ball at their own 22. The Warbirds moved the ball toward midfield before Blaine Mitchell tore loose on a 52-yard run for a touchdown. Hector Reyes added the extra point and the Eagles led 7-0 with 4:13 remaining in the opening stanza.
The Longhorn’s subsequent drive ended abruptly when they fumbled the ball away.
Another exchange of punts gave the Eagles the ball at their own 42-yard line where Ruben Vazquez tore through the line and sprinted 58 yards for Eldorado’s second touchdown.
Again, Hector Reyes added the extra-point and the Eagles led 14-0 with 5:24 to play in the half.
The Eagles would score once more before the intermission when Mitchell sneaked the ball into the end zone from the 2-yard line. This time the extra-point attempt failed and Eldorado led 20-0 at the half.
The second half turned into a defensive struggle as rain continued to soak the field. Bronte managed its only score with 2:27 left to play in the period when they recovered an Eagles fumble at Eldorado’s 22-yard-line. Two plays later, quarterback Ty Lee carried the ball in on a keeper for the Longhorn’s first points of the game. The extra-point attempt sailed wide and Eldorado led 20-6.
That would prove to be the final score as the two defensive squads took control of the game. Bronte took the ball away twice on fumbles and Eldorado gained possession of the ball when Bailey Espinosa intercepted a Ty Lee pass.
With time running out, Bronte could only watch as the Eagles went into the victory formation twice to kneel on the ball and run out the clock.
Blaine Mitchell led the Eagles in rushing yardage with 183 yards on 24 carries. Ruben Vazquez had some big runs of his own, including the 58-yard TD romp.
“It was a great victory for us,” Coach Wilhelm commented after the game. “They are the two-time defending district champs and they have some really good players.”
Wilhelm continued to say that he was pleased with the way the Eagles continue to improve each week.
“That’s the key,” he said. “If we can keep working on fundamentals and keep getting better then we have the chance to put ourselves in the position to do some good things at the end of the season.”
Wilhelm said the team’s attention must now shift to the Christoval Cougars who come to town Friday night.
“We need to be ready for these guys,” he said. “They have a big line and some pretty good skill people. They like to spread their opponents out and throw it around a lot.”
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday night in Eagle Stadium. Everyone is encouraged to come out and support the Eagles as they seek their second straight win in district.
For those who cannot make it to the contest. The game will be aired live on KLDE 104.9 FM.
Eldorado’s season record stands at 3-2 and 1-0 in district.