The Tivy coaches found themselves in a strange position last Friday night against Memorial. Late in the second half, they were almost trying not to score.
It proved to be a rather challenging endeavor. The Antlers could have scored 100 points against the Minutemen if they so desired. Instead, they opted to show some class during their 55-0 victory. At the beginning of the second half, They handed the quarterback reins to Ezekiel Cassillas, who had never played a snap at quarterback before Friday night. They waited until the play clock dipped below 10 seconds before running plays. And they primarily called for runs instead of testing Memorial vertically in the passing game.
It’s easy to understand why a lot of Tivy fans didn’t bother to attend Friday’s “game” at Antler Stadium. It’s hard to get excited about a game you know Tivy is going to dominate from the opening kickoff to the final whistle, a game that essentially ends with Tivy avoiding the end zone like it’s the next deadly plague in order to avoid running up the score.
But the Antlers’ shellacking of Memorial did offer one benefit: It gave reserve players a chance to prove what they can do during the game, and several of those players capitalized on their opportunity. Cassillas and Regan Robertson especially stood out. Cassillas hit Jeremiah Limehouse in stride for a 32-yard completion and sliced through Memorial’s defense on the ground. Robertson was a force on defense, consistently being the first defender to arrive at the football in the second half.
That’s why I have decided to award Cassillas and Robertson game balls for this week.
(This is a new column that I am deciding to write. Each week, I will be awarding game balls to athletes from any sport who had an exceptional performance the previous week. If you have any nominees for game balls, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will select five players to receive game balls each week).
Ezekiel Cassillas — quarterback — Tivy
Cassillas completed 4 of 7 passes for 57 yards and weaved through Memorial’s defense for 42 more yards and a touchdown. He could have compiled even greater numbers if Tivy’s coaches hadn’t decide to slow down the offensive tempo in the second half. Still, he impressed both his coaches and his peers with his performances.
Regan Robertson — linebacker — Tivy
The junior linebacker entered the game late in the first half last Friday night, and immediately made a strong impression: finishing the game with 10 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a quarterback hurry.
But according to his defensive coordinator Jeremy Hickman, his performance on Friday shouldn’t be that surprising. Robertson arrives at the field house every morning with a great attitude, ready to work hard. During film sessions, he peppers his coaches with questions, making sure he understands his responsibilities.
Robertson’s performance on Friday suggested that he is more than capable of stepping up if any of the linebackers in front of him suffer an injury. It also should be noted that he is a valuable contributor on special teams.
Andrew Burroughs — defensive back — Ingram
Before I award another game ball, I have a quick story to share.
On Monday, I interviewed several Ingram volleyball players for a story that will run later this week. (The Lady Warriors are currently enjoying one of their best seasons in program history). Toward the end of the interview, the volleyball players began to rave about the Ingram football team, still buzzing with excitement over the Warriors’ 31-26 win over Sonora.
Their elation underscored the current optimism surrounding Ingram athletics. And It also showed why it’s difficult to highlight just one individual performance at Ingram. It isn’t just one player who is changing the perception of Warrior athletics. Instead, Ingram’s administration, coaches and players have worked together to create a winning product both on the volleyball court and on the football field.
So yes, I could give a game ball to the entire Ingram football team, but that would be sort of a cop out. Therefore, I have decided to give a game ball to Andrew Burroughs, who returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown to give the Warriors a 13-0 lead in the first half. Pick-sixes always energize teams. And Burroughs’ touchdown gave the Warriors control they wouldn’t relinquish.
(Also, keep an eye out for the feature story on Ingram volleyball. It should be a good one).
Sean Baethge — quarterback — Harper
Baethge helped the Longhorns earn their first district win and their first win since the season opener. He threw for 120 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 72 more yards and two additional touchdowns. The Longhorns will need him to continue to be productive if they hope to advance to playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Ava Wampler — middle blocker — Tivy
The Lady Antlers couldn’t quite finish the job on Friday, falling to Boerne Champion in three sets (23-25, 24-26, 17-25).
One matter, though, is certain: the Lady Chargers are probably thankful they will never have to face Wampler again.
The senior middle blocker tried her best to will the Lady Antlers to victory. She rose to register blocks, disrupted Champion’s attacks and aggressively attacked the Lady Chargers’ back line. It ultimately wasn’t enough. Still, her final stats were impressive: 11 kills and nine blocks.
The Lady Antlers will need to the Ole Miss commit to maintain that level of play tonight, when they host Harlandale with third place on the line.