Saturday, September 01, 2012

"The Turnaround" - Game #1 VS. Canyon

by Jason Strunk
Lubbock Westerners Head Football Coach

Our Season Opener Game story....

Lubbock High Westerners vs. Canyon Eagles

Location - Canyon, Texas
Stadium - Kimbrough Memorial Stadium
Westerner Travel Time - 2 hours
Kickoff - 7:00 p.m.

Lubbock Captains (L-R) - #65 Dominick Adame, #80 Joel Rivera, #30 Keefe Gallagher, #70 Raleigh Anderson
All Photos Courtesy: Paul Anderson
Coin Toss - We want the ball (we won the toss and received)

Westerner Keys to Victory (3 per week):
1. Start Fast
2. Ball security/Win turnover battle
3. Finish


LHS practiced two days in a row going through complete game simulation. The idea behind it was to get us to start fast... Several key players were cleared to play during the week after suffering injuries during camp... For hydration purposes, the team consumed over 200lbs of fruit throughout the course of the day (this is a tidbit section, so I will include odd and random things as they come).

Game Notes

First Half

Lubbock QB Layven Armendariz
The theme for us this week was to start fast (key to victory #1). We really emphasized this all week. We even practiced it. We felt if we could come out fast we could control the tempo of the game. We accomplished this in a big way.

After a long KO return by Charles Keller, we were set up deep inside Canyon territory to start the game. We didn't waste any time getting moving. QB Layven Armendariz drilled WR Bam Jackson in the back of the end zone for a quick score. Ryan Rodriguez nailed the XP to make it 7-0. We could not have asked for a better start. We executed the game plan and got what we wanted: a fast start.

Our defense did its job too. One thing we wanted to do was keep the momentum. We have a defense that will fly to the ball and they are not afraid to hit you. Safety Keefe Gallagher (gained 20+ pound this offseason), OLB Charles Keller and DE Josh Waugh are three seniors on our defense that will not hesitate to lower the boom. Corner Amadeo Conyers is a lock down DB that can cover and make some solid contact. These guys got after it on Canyon's drive and forced a punt on their initial drive.

#32 Brandon Hernandez
It wasn't long before we saw our lead jump to 14-0. Armendariz found Bam again deep down the middle for another TD pass. At this point the fast start was fully accomplished. However, Canyon is a perennial playoff team with a great system. They weren't just going to roll over. Their offense picked up the pace and got on the board to make it 14-7 and got their crowd back into the game.

How did we respond? Regained our composure and punched one in. We were facing a 4th & 1 at our 29. We have a RB named Brandon Hernandez that was an all 5A district RB in 2011. We didn't hesitate as a staff. We said get the first down. We gave the ball to Brandon, caught Canyon in a blitz and we were off to the races. Hernandez was caught from behind near the 25 or so. That set up another TD pass from Armendariz to Joel Rivera on a fade route in the corner of the end zone. XP as good and we were up 21-7.

#80 Joel Rivera TD Catch
It was an eventful first half. We are up 21-7. The next thing we know, the power goes out. No lights. No scoreboard. No nothing. A transformer blew in the city somewhere. We played the rest of the first half with no power.

Canyon's offense, however, found its power switch. They got right back into the game... in a hurry. It was 21-14 with Canyon on the 5-yard line with 4 seconds left in the half. They ran a little slant route to their inside receiver and beat us for the tying score on the last play of the half. 21-21 at the half.

Second Half

Lubbock on defense at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium
The power was restored but our offense couldn't get back on track. Canyon scored on the opening drive making it 28-21. We promptly got the ball back and drove past midfield. On a key 3rd down, we got high snap, Armendariz couldn't recover and Canyon caught a break. They recovered in our territory. They capitalized. 35-21 Canyon.

MLB #32Sergio Cervantez filling the hole
This is where we had our shot to get back into the game and make something happen. Keller had another long return, this time down to the Canyon 26. There we were. Ready to claw back to 35-28. We ran a screen, Canyon read it perfectly. The picked it and off to the races they go. Just like that, 42-21 canyon.


After the pick-six, not much happened on the scoreboard. What did happen though, was the Westerners kept battling. No quit in these guys. We still felt like we could get back into the game. It didn't go our way but it didn't matter. They played.

Our keys to victory are usually the story of the game. Tonight we started fast but we lost the turnover battle and we didn't finish. We turned the ball over 5 times and put our defense in tough spots. Our guys know that you cannot turn the ball over 5 times and win.

The locker room was good following the game. Our guys know what we can do. They felt they let one get away. All positive stuff. We are fine. It hurt but we trained them to be mentally tough and have the right attitude. It showed tonight. Progress is very, very noticeable.

I think the Canyon staff did a great job rallying their troops coming back. Coach Bryant knows is stuff. He has a very good staff. I wish them the best for the remainder of the season! I feel it was a good game for both us to start the year off with.

What's Next?

This is Coronado week. Intra-City rival game. Great rivalry between two schools. But the unique relationship between our coaching staff’s really makes this game a lot of fun. Stay tuned...

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