CREAM RISES TO THE TOP

in Football

With Class 3A state-ranked teams facing off on opening weekend, West shines while Lorena stumbles under the Friday night lights in the Heart of Texas

Wasting no time putting some marquee matchups under the Friday night lights, Class 3A showdowns grabbed the spotlight on the opening weekend of the 2021 Texas high school football season.

But while all eyes were on the matchup between Class 3A, Division II’s top-ranked Franklin Lions visiting Class 3A, DI’s eighth-ranked Lorena Leopards as well as Class 3A, Division I’s 20th-ranked West Trojans hosting the Class 3A, DII’s 10th-ranked Lexington Eagles, the undercard of games provided plenty of thrills as well.

In Class 3A, Division I action, the seventh-ranked Grandview Zebras had their hands full pulling out a victory over Malakoff, 24-21. In Class 3A, DII, the Dublin Lions crushed the Class 2A, DI DeLeon Bearcats, 43-14, and the Riesel Indians knocked off by arch-rival Marlin, 17-6.

FRANKLIN 27, LORENA 20

LORENA — Behind two fourth quarter rushing touchdowns from Bryson Washington, the Class 3A, Division II’s top-ranked Franklin Lions knocked off the Class 3A, DI’s eighth-ranked Lorena Leopards, 27-20, in a marquee matchup last Friday night.

Appearing poised for a return to the state title game, Franklin rallied from a 20-14 deficit with only 8:54 remaining in the game. Hauling in a first half touchdown pass, Washington finished with a game-high 199 yards rushing and three scores.

After trailing 14-6 at intermission, Lorena capitalized when senior Colton Dale returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter.  On their next possession, Lorena senior quarterback Ryne Abel hit junior Khi Ritchie for a 15-yard scoring strike, and the two Leopards connected again for the two-point conversion to give Lorena a 20-14 lead.

In the losing effort for Lorena, Abel completed 18 of 30 passes for 267 yards, hooking up with senior Rhett Hanson seven times for 122 yards. Senior Reed Michna led the Leopard ground game with 99 yards on 18 carries.

But Franklin bounced back on Washington’s 10-yard scoring romp up the middle as the Lions regained a 21-20 lead with 6:50 remaining. After getting a defensive stop, Washington once again broke up the middle for a 49-yard touchdown run to extend Franklin’s lead to seven points  with 4:58 left on the clock.

Lorena responded by driving to Franklin’s 24-yard line, but the Lions’ Brayden Youree recovered a fumble with 10 seconds remaining to seal the win.

WEST 48, LEXINGTON 7

WEST — By jumping out to a commanding halftime lead, the Class 3A, Division I’s 20th-ranked West Trojans crushed the Class 3A, DII’s 10th-ranked Lexington Eagles, 48-7, last Friday night.

West running back TJ McCutchion and wide receiver Wyatt Wolf scored two touchdowns apiece as the Trojans built a comfortable 35-0 advantage before intermission.

Defensively, Trojan linebacker Brandon Vanek led with 14 tackles, followed by defensive back Easton Paxton with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and five takedowns.

BOSQUEVILLE 14, CLIFTON 6

CLIFTON — When it was all said and done,the Clifton Cubs got exactly what they asked for in the 2021 Texas high school season opener. After all, playing playoff-caliber teams like Class 2A, DI’s Bosqueville Bulldogs in a non-district matchup has always been Clifton’s approach to getting for district under the direction of veteran head coach Chuck Caniford.

Despite trailing 14-0 through three quarters, Clifton rallied in the fourth quarter and put themselves ina position to win the game before falling short against Bosqueville, 14-6, last Friday night at Cub Stadium.

“Despite the end result, we were better this week than we were last week,” Caniford said. “And that’s what we are looking for in non-district, continued improvement. We put ourselves in a position to win, but made too many unforced errors to earn the victory.”

Getting on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter, Bosqueville (1-0) quarterback Justin Moore connected with Newt Schornack for a big gain down the right sideline to set up Jayce Powers’ five-yard touchdown run two plays later.

Then with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, Moore gave the Bulldogs what seemed like a commanding 14-0 lead when he cut up field for a 45-yard scoring run.

Despite struggling to sustain drives that resulted in points, the Cubs (0-1) responded with a fourth quarter score that left the outcome in question until Clifton’s final possession. On one of only a handful big gains for the Cubs, Finney turned the corner and outraced a host of Bulldogs down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown run with 9:43 left to make it a one-score game.

With two more opportunities to pull out the victory, the Cubs failed to complete the comeback, turning the ball over on a fumble before being held on downs in the final five minutes of the game.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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