Some quality China Spring Cougar junior high football teams came to town on Thursday, but they weren’t all able to find success.
The seventh grade Tiger B-team used a late third quarter touchdown to take the lead for good in an 8-6 victory. The score was a 43-yard Tyler Moore run, and then Victor De Los Santos-Sotelo came through with the game-winning conversion run.
“We were lucky that (touchdown) play got started because Tyler and (quarterback) Zach (Banz) ran into each other after Zach stepped the wrong way, but Tyler understands his role on that play and he had enough speed to take it all the way,” said coach Greg Garrison. “We told Victor we were going to line up and run it straight at them (on the conversion).”
With just 31 seconds left in the first half, a nine-yard touchdown run put China Spring up 6-0. A Jesus Castellanos tackle on the ensuing conversion run proved to be a difference-making play in the game. He also had a tackle for loss on the night.
In the third quarter, Nicholas Salyer made a crucial fourth down tackle for loss to set up the Tiger scoring drive.
After Glen Rose went ahead, the Tigers got the ball back early in the fourth quarter when Justin Harte recovered a fumble on fourth down. The Tigers would actually lose a fumble on fourth down shortly thereafter, but Salyer did a tremendous job to chase down the Cougar at the Tiger 5 and prevent a touchdown.
“Nic plays really well on defense, but he can also run the ball really well,” Garrison said. “He’s new to Glen Rose and still learning his plays, but he’s getting better and he can make an impact.”
On first-and-goal with just two minutes left in the game, Kevin Navarro was able to force a fumble and De Los Santos-Sotelo managed to recover it.
“That was a big play down there when they were getting ready to score,” Garrison said. “Kevin did well to cause the fumble and then Victor was able to recover it.”
That turnover proved to be the final blow to China Spring, as a Teddy Starnes 13-yard run enabled Glen Rose to run out the clock.
8th-A Tigers 12
China Spring 18
The Tigers did a lot of things well in this game, but six turnovers proved to be their undoing.
“The turnovers are exactly what we just talked about in our little (postgame) huddle,” Garrison said. “I can’t fault our effort the whole night long. I had to put in a guy who had never played offensive line before at tackle and told him we’d coach him as we go.”
While quarterback Ethan Hartman had a hand in most of the turnovers, he also valiantly battled cramps throughout much of the game on his way to 186 rushing yards with a touchdown and a passing score as well.
“Hartman does a great job,” the coach said. “He’s a great leader; the kids look up to him. If he’s going strong, it’s real easy to get everybody going. He’s our workhorse running the ball.”
Glen Rose went ahead 6-0 in the first quarter when Hartman rolled out to connect with Kully Reynolds and he was able to drag a tackler across the goal line. China Spring prevented a successful conversion play.
“Kully and Charles (Rios) do a nice job of being key rushers that we count on,” Garrison said.
Late in the quarter, China Spring intercepted Hartman, hit a 35-yard pass and scored two plays later on a three-yard run. A Logan Smith tackle prevented the conversion run (6-6).
“Logan has a lot of fight in him,” Garrison said. “He doesn’t care how big somebody is; he’s going to go hit him.”
Midway through the second quarter, China Spring went ahead on a 43-yard touchdown run, but the conversion run failed when the Cougar was driven out of bounds (6-12). China Spring threatened to score again in the quarter after a Tiger turnover, but Smith made a touchdown-saving tackle and then Landen Ibarra made an interception in the end zone on the next play. He also recovered a fumble at the end of the half.
“That was a big interception by Landen,” Garrison said. “We needed it get some momentum.”
It certainly helped with momentum, because on the second Tiger offensive play to follow Hartman headed right, broke a tackle and blazed a trail down the sideline for a 72-yard touchdown (12-12, conversion run failed).
After recovering a fumble in the third, China Spring scored the decisive touchdown on a 15-yard run (12-18, conversion run failed). Glen Rose kept battling, as Smith made another touchdown-saving tackle in the fourth and then Rios made a fourth-down tackle on the next play at the Tiger 4.
“Rios is a tough kid,” Garrison said.
Though Hartman busted off a 40-yard run in the closing minutes, China Spring was able to seal the win with a diving interception.
8th-B Tigers 0
China Spring 14
An eight-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and a 13-yard touchdown run (conversion pass good) in the fourth quarter accounted for the China Spring points.
Four turnovers cost the Tigers in a competitive affair.
“As soon as those guys figure out they are capable of being good football players, they will start having more success,” Garrison said. “We just have to get all 11 of them being more consistent on both sides of the ball, but they play hard. That’s the first time we’ve had so much trouble on our quarterback-running back exchanges.”
The Tigers’ best offensive play of the game by far was actually the last play, when Casey Ratliff broke a 51-yard run as time expired.
Top defenders for Glen Rose in the game were Colton Bunt (sack, tackle for loss) and Tack Sims (tackle for loss, fumble recovery). Chris Fagan forced the fumble.
“Colton does a good job playing both ways for us at center and defensive tackle,” Garrison said. “He’s a great kid who loves the game. Sims is an outside linebacker who plays as hard as he can out there.”
7th-A Tigers 0
China Spring 48
China Spring was very tough to deal with, as nearly all of its points actually came before halftime. The top Glen Rose defender was Jose Rodriguez (tackle for loss), while the Glen Rose first downs came late in the fourth quarter on runs by Tanner Stroud and Jake Anderson.
“China Spring had a good group of (7A) kids; I can’t fault them for that,” Garrison said. “Our guys will have to become more aggressive early in games instead of taking punches and then trying to fight back.”