Wildcats roll over Lincoln

November 25, 2001|By TOM RONCO, Special to this newspaper

BRAWLEY — If you don't believe in the coaching axiom that football teams show with offense but win with defense, than you have not seen the Brawley Union High football team this year.

The Wildcats are headed for the San Diego CIF Division III semifinals after untracking Tank Cannon and the Lincoln High Hornets 55-14 in a quarterfinal game here Friday night, doing so with their usual stifling defense and ground-control offense.

"The defense had its usual good game. They stopped Cannon, made some mistakes on pass coverage, but overall did a great job," said Brawley head coach John Bishop. "You have to play good defense to win in the playoffs."

The Wildcats indeed untracked Cannon, who had rushed the previous week for 311 yards on just 11 carries against Southwest High of El Centro.


Keying on the senior, Brawley held Cannon to just 61 yards on 14 carries, his longest run of the night being 19 yards.

"Tank Who?" asked nose guard Eric Drew after the game. "We were mainly trying to reach our goal of keeping him under 100 yards and get three turnovers, which we did."

Turnovers played a part in Brawley's early 14-0 lead.

Lincoln took the opening kick-off, a squib designed to negate Lincoln's speed, and was held to negative 13 yards on its first three plays.

Following a short punt, Brawley drove for a touchdown from the Lincoln 48-yard line on seven running plays, with Andy Buckner scoring from the 1.

"We were totally prepared. We watched film and worked hard in practice," said Buckner. "The whole team was mentally and physically ready."

Down 6-0, Lincoln quarterback D'onte Sharp was nailed by Brawley's Curtis Smith as he tried to elude the pass rush and coughed up the football, with the ball recovered by Shaun Palacio.

"We put more pass rush on them than they had seen before," said Bishop, crediting Smith, Palacio, Adrian Vandiver, Steve Duran and Drew. "The key was to keep Sharp from setting his feet."

With the ball at the Hornet 34- yard line, Mitchell Ruiz carried twice for 10 yards. Buckner then got outside thanks to a great block from Richard Encinas and broke two tackles to race 29 yards to score.

"I wasn't thinking that I could run away from them, but they were trying to tackle me high so I just kept my legs moving as hard as I could," said Buckner.

"He has great balance. He sees an opening and he's quick to get to it," said Bishop. "He a slasher and you always are talking about yards after the tackle, or first hit, when you talk about him."

Trailing 14-0 after quarterback Dominic Aguirre ran for the two-point PAT, Cannon was hit from the front by Vandiver and the back by Duran, causing another fumble, this one recovered by linebacker Arturo Ayon.

Brawley committed its only offensive mistake of the night on the ensuing drive and the Hornets made the Wildcats pay.

With third down and 21 yards to go following a holding penalty, Lincoln's blitz caused a fumble scooped up by Shandoe Grimes, who ran 44 yards to score. Sharp missed on a two-point conversion pass attempt and Lincoln trailed 14-6.

That was as close as Lincoln would get.

Brawley embarked on a 16-play drive that consumed 83 yards and eight minutes and established the dominance of the Wildcat offensive line.

Alternating runs by Buckner and Ruiz, and a 13-yard pass from Aguirre to Palacio, the Wildcats drove to the Hornet 10. Aguirre kept the ball on an option to score and his PAT kick extended Brawley's lead to 21-6.

"Dominic did an excellent job of reading how they were set up defensively and he'd see a whole and run through it," said senior guard and fellow co-captain Brandon Wellcome.

Added Bishop, "Dominic played well. He ran the triple option and read it well."

On the Hornets' next drive, they again went three and out but pinned the Wildcats inside their own 20-yard line with a punt.

The Brawley offensive line dominated on an 82-yard drive that featured Dominic Aguirre throwing an option pass to slot back Joel Aguirre for 19 yards and Ruiz scampering for 20 yards on another play.

"We dominated the first half and they brought some different guys in the second half, but it didn't really matter who was in there," said Wellcome. "Coach Odie (Dioncio Ordunez) told us to stay low and the team that stayed low would win and we did."

The drive ended with Buckner again going in from the 1, and Aguirre's PAT gave the Cats a 28-6 halftime lead.

Lincoln, meanwhile, had only nine yards rushing and 54 yards, on one pass from Sharp to Ronald White, for a total offense of 63 yards in the first half.

"They were talking smack the whole time, even when they were down, but that showed us that they weren't as disciplined as we are," said Drew.

Brawley took another eight minutes off the clock on the opening drive of the second half, grinding to the Hornet 4-yard line, where Aguirre missed a field goal.

Lincoln mounted a drive to get back that featured a 20-yard scramble by Sharp and a 17-yard scramble by Cannon, but the drive died at the Wildcat 45-yard line.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles