Another Victory for the Rangers: 42-24 over San Antonio Taft

John Kastner

Smithson Valley signal caller, Zack Bailey, knew that San Antonio Taft's fame signal caller, Ram Vela, was top-rated. Come game time, it would be a contest of which quarterback would come out smelling like a rose and earn his team a 5A-II state quarterfinal berth.

Once the opening shotgun had sounded at Farris Stadium Saturday afternoon, an estimated 9,000 screaming fans quickly witnessed a real genuine circus of the airways. Bailey, on the other hand, was perfect as he directed the Rangers to a smart 42-24 triumph over Ram Vela and Taft and the rest of the story was history.

All afternoon, Bailey had Vela's number - 265 yards passing to Vela's 116. But the biggest factor was that Taft was touted as the number one rated offense in the Alamo city. A stout and dangerous Ranger line led by Joe Pawelek, Calvin Gore, Kendal Volz, Eryk Anders and Mykel Kover proved too costly for the Raiders to swallow.

Smithson Valley held the Raiders to only 105 yards rushing and only 221 total yards.

"Our defensive line was once again tremendous," injected Rangers Coach Larry Hill, "It just continues to take place week after week."

This coming Saturday, Coach Hill and crew take their air-show to the Alamodome for a berth in the Class 5A-Division II title game against League City Clear Lake, a team that had to overcome three consecutive overtimes to finally sneak by the Katy Tigers, 35-34.

The week before against San Benito, the Rangers amassed 169 total yards rushing and 182 yards passing while allowing the opposition 14 yards rushing and 56 yards passing. In just two playoff games, the Rangers have compiled 300 yards passing and 447 yards rushing while allowing their opponents 145 yards rushing and 158 yards in the air.

At Saturday's game, Taft dented the scoreboard first with 11:13 and still early in the ballgame. Ram Vela pitched to fullback Robert Bonner, who then dashed 67 yards into paydirt after Craig Hernandez hit the uprights for a 7-0 lead.

From that point on it was all Smithson Valley. David Gutierrez bulled 27 yards to pay-dirt with 7:48 left in the first stanza and David Sweet once again did the honors to tie the contest at 7-all.

"Once Taft got on the scoreboard, we knew that we had to generate our offense and put some points on the scoreboard," said Ranger Linebacker Kendal Volz.

Linebacker Joe Pawelek also knew that things had to change rather quickly.

"We didn't want to let Raft score again," said Pawelek, "We wanted to score early and increase our lead later on."

The Rangers put a pair of touchdowns together in the second frame, the first coming with 9:20 left to play when Blake Schrock grabbed a toss from Zach Bailey and dashed 12 yards for the tally and David Sweet connected once again for a 14-7 bulge.

Then with 8:24 blinking, Andrew Sendejo was the hero as he snatched an interception and bombed 40 yards for the score and it was 21-7.

The Raiders found themselves back in deep trouble as they fumbled the pigskin on the ensuing kickoff which gave the Rangers the ball and another touchdown by David Gutierrez on an 11-yard scamper. Sweet hit the uprights for a 28-7 margin.

"I think from that point on, things really started to happen for us both on offense and defense," Coach Hill stressed.

Taft completed at 27-yard field goal with 1:13 showing in the first half for a 28-10 score.

Smithson Valley scored once again this time with 7:25 in the third when Bailey hit Stephen Laurence with a 61-yard bomb and Sweet connected for a 35-10 lead.

With 11:05 left in the final stanza, Nathan Guerra had a big interception that turned into another score for 54 yards and Sweet did the honors again.

Taft scored twice in the final quarter. With 6:07 left, Jabari Scott went in on a one-yard run and the extra kick was good. Then with 1:40 left, another four-yard dash by Scott and a kick by Hernandez left the score at 42-24.

Smithson Valley Rangers face Clear Lake for the State Semi Final match at the Alamodome, Saturday, December 11. Tickets are on sale at Smithson Valley High School until 2 p.m. Friday.

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