By Larnce Barker Salado Village Voice Sports
With a little help from Lorena, Salado is the District 9-4A Champion after the Eagles throttled the Connally Cadets 41-7 on Nov. 10.
Lorena had a come-from-behind last second win over the Fairfield Eagles, to give Fairfield its second loss in district play. This left the Eagles alone at the top of the District with a 9-1 record. Salado’s only loss this year was to Fairfield in overtime.
Even though Salado went on the road to face the Cadets at Mac Peoples stadium, there was no home field advantage for the Cadets. The Eagles, with their ground control approach, controlled the game from the opening kickoff to the final buzzer.
The Salado Eagles received the opening kickoff from the Connally Cadets and returned it to the Cadets 47 yard line. On the eighth play of the drive, Salado running back Trey Sheppard scored on a 2 yard run. A Jake Walrath kick with 7:25 to go in the first quarter gave the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.
The Eagles defense would force Connally to a three- and-out series, punting the ball over to Salado. The Eagles started on their own 15 yard line. Salado went on an eight play drive that stalled. The Eagles set up to punt but Wrook Brown took the short snap and ran 10 yards around the left side of the Salado formation with great blocks from Konnor Cook and Wade Woods for the Salado Eagles first down. Salado capped off the 14 play drive when Sheppard ran for a 6 yard touchdown. A Walrath kick with 10:03 left in the second quarter to bring the lead to 14-0.
Salado’s Jacob Wilk picked off Connally’s Kavian Gaither on the second play of the Cadets’ next possession, returning it 24 yards to the Connally 1 yard line. Hayden Haire followed his center for a quarterback sneak to score. Walrath kicked the extra point with 9:48 left in the second quarter to increase the score to 21-0.
The Cadets scored on their next possession when Cadet quarterback Gaither called his number on the fourth play, running 46 yards for a Connally touchdown. Gerado Bazaldua kicked the extra point with 7:13 left in the second quarter to cut the Salado lead 21-7.
Salado fumbled the kick off return giving Connally the ball at the Salado 35 yard line. The Eagles defense, ranked the best in the district, stiffened to force the Cadets to attempt a 33 yard field goal which hit the left upright and was unsuccessful.
The Eagles took over at their own 20 yard line. Salado drove 80 yards on nine plays. Sheppard tacked on another touchdown from the 1 yard line. The PAT failed and Salado led going into the lockers 27-7.
Connally received the second half kick off and Wrook Brown intercepted Gaither, returning it 38 yards to the Cadets’ 6 yard line. The Eagles took advantage of the turnover. On the third play of the short drive, Salado’s Aaron Torczynski one yard touchdown run and Walrath kick with 9:12 left in the third gave the Eagles a 34-7 lead.
Later in the second half, following a Connally punt, the Eagles took over at their own 19 yard line. Salado took 10 plays to chew up the clock before Zack Adams rumbled 10 yards for the Eagles touchdown. Walrath added the extra point for a 41-7 lead.
Turnovers haunted both teams for the rest of the game, preventing either from scoring.
The Eagles Defense had another stellar performance with holding the Cadets to just seven first downs, 139 yards rushing and 12 yards passing in the Win. The Eagles defensive standouts Rustin Hale 18 tackles, Mac Miller 14, Zach Adams and Konnor Baird 11 each, Zavier Bagio and Wrook Brown 10 each, Jacob Wilk 9, Caleb Self 7, Hunter Bales 6, Tommie Barker and Kash Eddleman 5 each, Belton Farr 4, Cade Scallin 3, Wyatt Bagley and Chandler Wilhelm 2 each, Willy Whigham- Kaden Smien-Kyle Saunders and Ryan Starritt 1 each.
Salado coaches and players found out in the locker room minutes after the game that Lorena upset Fairfield to give the Salado Eagles their first outright District Championship in 10 years.
The Fairfield loss gives Salado the #1 seed in the Texas 4A Division 2 State playoffs and Fairfield dropped to the 4th seed.
The Salado Eagles (9-1) will travel to Mustang Stadium in Manor to face the Columbus Cardinals (3-6) in a Bi-District contest. The Bi-District Football game will be 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at Mustang Stadium 14900 North FM 973 in Manor.