TACKLE FOR LOSS -- Garrett Porter (51) and Omar Barajas (15) team up to tackle D’Hanis quarterback Ethan Reyes behind the line of scrimmage. The Eagles defense turned the Cowboys away on four consecutive plays inside the red zone and got the ball back at the Eldorado 11 yard line. The Eagles went on to defeat D’Hanis 27-14 to claim the Area Championship and move on to the third round of the State 2A Playoffs. -- RANDY MANKIN | THE ELDORADO SUCCESS
TACKLE FOR LOSS -- Garrett Porter (51) and Omar Barajas (15) team up to tackle D’Hanis quarterback Ethan Reyes behind the line of scrimmage. The Eagles defense turned the Cowboys away on four consecutive plays inside the red zone and got the ball back at the Eldorado 11 yard line. The Eagles went on to defeat D’Hanis 27-14 to claim the Area Championship and move on to the third round of the State 2A Playoffs. -- RANDY MANKIN | THE ELDORADO SUCCESS

The Eldorado Eagles football team defeated the D’Hanis Cowboys 27-14 on Friday, November 19th at Walter Leavermann Stadium in Del Rio to claim the Area Championship.

The win represents only the third time in team history that an Eagles team has won in the second round of the playoffs. Eagles squads won two playoff games in 1937 and 1950, but neither of those could advance to the third round since the playoffs of that era didn’t continue beyond that level.

Also, the team is only the fourth Eagles squad to ever win 10 games in a season. That happened last in 2019 when the Eagles defeated Haskell for the Bi-District title, but fell to Wheeler in the Area game.

Santiago Hernandez led the way for the Eagles last Friday night. He caught seven passes for 90 yards, carried the ball 14 times for 109 yards and a touchdown. He also tallied three solo tackles, five assists and a tackle for loss on defense.

“You know, Santiago has been playing really well all year, especially on defense and at the slot position on offense.” Eagles head coach Jon Long said after the game. “When we needed him to carry the ball more, he stepped up and played well.”

D’Hanis had not surrendered more than 14 points in any of their games this season, so it came as no surprise that the Cowboys, when they won the coin toss, elected to kick the ball and put their vaunted defense on the field first.

The Eagles took the opening kickoff and drove the length of the field. James Kimble carried the ball in from six yards out and Kaden Gonzalez kicked the extra point to give Eldorado a 7-0 lead at the 7:06 mark in the first quarter.

The Eagles shut down the Cowboys on their first possession and forced a punt, setting the Warbirds up at their own 36 yard line. From there, the Eagles dispensed a mixture of runs and passes that moved the ball to the D’Hanis 12. Eagles quarterback Korbin Covarrubiaz then zipped a pass to Jason Covarrubiaz in the end zone. Gonzalez’s extra point kick was blocked, making the score 13-0 with 2:54 remaining in the opening stanza.

The Cowboys mounted a drive of their own and pushed the ball to the Eldorado five yard line where they had a first down. The Eagles defense took over from there and shut D’Hanis down on four consecutive plays including a pair of tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Garrett Porter and Omar Barajas teamed up on a stop for the Warbirds that resulted in a three yard loss. Porter and Cooper Meador collaborated on the next tackle, that pushed the Cowboys back to the 11 yard line where the Eagles took over on downs following a pair of incomplete passes in the end zone.

Eldorado again drove the ball down the field where Korbin Covarrubiaz ran the ball in from three yards out with 3:53 left to play in the first half. 2-point try failed, but Eldorado extended its lead to 19-0.

Eldorado’s defense held yet again and forced the ball over on downs. But, on the ensuing drive, pressure on Eagles quarterback Korbin Covarrubiaz forced a fumble that the Cowboys recovered deep in Eldorado territory. The Eagles returned the favor on the very next play when Nino Tambunga intercepted a D’Hanis pass along the sideline just before the intermission.

Neither team gained much traction in the early going of the second quarter, but the Cowboys managed to score late in the stanza. Luke Langfeld carried the ball in from two yards out and the extra point kick was good making the score 19-7 with just under two minutes remaining in the third.

D’Hanis carved into Eldorado’s lead again in the fourth period when quarterback Ethan Reyes connected with Langfeld on a 25-yard TD pass. The PAT kick was good and the Eagles lead had dwindled to five points with 6:18 remaining in the game.

Santiago Hernandez took over from there and sprinted the ball across the goal line from 25 yards out. Korbin Covarrubiaz ran to the left then found a gap in the D’Hanis defense to carry in the 2-point conversion. That gave the Eagles a 27-14 lead that would prove to be the final score.

Korbin Covarrubiaz intercepted a pass late in the game to end the Cowboy’s last scoring threat. The Warbirds lined up in the victory formation at the D’Hanis 26 yard line and Covarrubiaz knelt with the ball to end the game.

EHS Principal Perry Graves presented the Eagles with their second football trophy in as many weeks. Then, as the team celebrated by singing “Hail, Eldorado,” teammates Cooper Meador and Damian Romo managed to slip behind Eagles Head Coach Jon Long and douse him with a cooler filled with water.

Even though the Eagles offense scored more points against D’Hanis than any team this year, Long was singing the praises of his defense after the game.

“Cooper, Sam and Santiago are kind of the usual suspects when we talk about making big plays on defense, but I saw more out of Tony Kmiec at inside linebacker,” Long said. “He stepped up and made some big plays and I thought Omar and Nino did really well. And, Korbin’s interception at the end sealed the deal for us.”

Long was also excited by the number of fans who traveled to Del Rio for the game. “We had a great crowd and they turned out to welcome us home when we rolled back into Eldorado after midnight.”

The Eagles will face the 11-1 Falls City Beavers in the Regional semi-final game at 7 pm on Friday, November 26th at John Gupton Stadium in Leander where Eldorado will be the home team. Ticket will be sold online only at https://bit.ly/3nKeplZ. Also, be aware of the stadium’s “Clear Bag Policy.” View the oolicy online at https://bit.ly/3CM7ahy.