By TONY EIERDAM
Coming into this District 6-3A contest Friday night at Ram Stadium, in order to qualify for the playoffs the Mineral Wells Rams needed to upset the first-place Kennedale Wildcats and hope that Castleberry did the same to Lake Worth.
Early in the contest, thanks in part to the legs of Kennedale running back L.J. Powell, the Wildcats served notice that they had come to Mineral Wells to claim an undisputed district championship.
Powell rushed for 107 yards on two first-quarter touchdown plays and finished with a game-high 325 yards on the ground to lead the ‘Cats to a 63-28 win over the Rams as Kennedale wins the league title with a perfect 5-0 mark.
The loss leaves the Rams with a 5-5 overall record and a 2-3 mark in district play as MWHS did not qualify for a playoff spot.
The Rams fought until the bitter end, scoring its final two touchdowns on alert defensive plays.
But in the end, MWHS could not stop the vaunted Kennedale rushing attack as the Wildcats piled up 535 yards on the ground.
“We played hard, and played all the way to the end,” Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence said. “We had some tackling issues, we did not line up properly a couple of times that gave them points, but (Kennedale) is a good football team.
“I am proud of our kids for playing four quarters.”
Lawrence, in his fourth year as Rams head coach, will say goodbye to a group of seniors who were freshmen when he arrived.
“This bunch did well,” he said. “They helped us go to the playoffs two of the last three years, and although they fell short of making school history, this bunch fought hard and I am awfully proud of them.”
One of those seniors, offensive lineman Jacoby Prestwood, reflected on his three years on varsity.
“This has been a great three years,” Prestwood said. “I loved playing for Coach Lawrence, Coach (offensive line coach Sean) Harvey and Coach (offensive coordinator David) Tarver, and I wouldn’t trade the past three years for anything.
“I am really sad to see it go, but hopefully I can continue to play in college. I am so glad and proud to have been a Mineral Wells Ram. This team has so much heart, and if games were measured just off of heart, we would have won every game by 50 points.
“When I look back at my experiences here, I will think about my family, which is my team. I love my teammates, and all of my coaches made an impact on my life. I appreciate every one of them.”
Kennedale demonstrated its ability to score early in the contest. The Wildcats led 14-0 after the first quarter on touchdown runs of 22 and 85 yards by Powell.
Kennedale’s lead grew to 28-0 after Donny Darville, who finished with 168 yards on the ground, reached the end zone on runs of 26 and 47 yards.
The Rams scored a touchdown just before the half ended to stay in the game. The drive began at the MWHS 11 with 2:43 left in the half.
Sophomore quarterback Caleb Acosta completed three consecutive passes to begin the drive. He completed an eight-yard pass to senior receiver Brandon Martinez to begin the drive, and followed with a 17-yard strike to junior receiver Kelly Williams.
On the ensuing play, Acosta went back to Martinez as the pair hooked up for a 17-yard pass play. A personal foul call on Kennedale followed by a defensive holding infraction moved the ball to the Kennedale 8.
On the next play, Acosta found junior tight end Jarrod Bennett for a nine-yard pickup to the visitors’ 3. MWHS reached the end zone on the next play when senior running back Gilbert Castorena bullied his way over the goal line off left tackle to put the Rams on the board. Castorena followed with the extra point to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 28-7 at the break.
Kennedale came out to begin the second half and put the game away with a seven-play, 69-yard drive – all on the ground – that ended on a two-yard touchdown run by Darville. As he did on every extra-point attempt, Tabor Key booted the PAT to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 35-7.
Kennedale added two more rushing TDs in the third quarter and tacked on a pair of scores in the fourth.
In between Kennedale’s second and third TDs of the third period, the Rams found the end zone on an 11-yard pass from Acosta to Bennett.
Following the TD, MWHS used a little trickery to score a two-point conversion. Extra-point holder Brandon Martinez took the snap, but instead of placing the ball on the ground for a kick he instead got up and fired a pass into the end zone to Toby Alamanza.
The Rams scored twice on defense in the fourth quarter, each on fumble returns. Bryan Craig scooped and scored on a 48-yard return of a Powell fumble, and later in the final stanza junior defensive back Omery Trevino alertly picked up a loose ball and sprinted 41 yards to pay dirt to cut the lead to 63-28.
Castorena finished with 86 yards on the ground and saw his streak of eight consecutive games rushing for at least 100 yards come to an end.
Kennedale back rushes for 324 yards in 63-28 win as MWHS fails to reach playoffs
By TONY EIERDAM
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