By JOHN BLACK
DEER PARK (Sp) -- The La Porte Bulldogs, ranked as the No. 5 team in the Houston area going into the weekend, got the 2011 Texas High School Class 5A playoffs off on the right foot here Friday night as they downed a familiar foe -- Pasadena Memorial -- by a 35-7 margin to advance to the second round of post-season play.
The Bulldogs, under the direction of head coach Jeff LaReau, moved to 10-1 on the season with the win over the Mavericks. The team will now take on Fort Bend Bush on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 1 p.m. at Deer Park ISD's Abshier Stadium. The Dogs are competing in the Small School Division of post-season play.
Against Memorial Friday in the beautifully renovated Abshier Stadium in Deer Park, the Bulldogs needed a little time to get their sea legs under them, as they carried only a 14-0 lead into the halftime dressing. And by the way, those first 24 minutes of action zipped by. There were very few penalties and lots of action for just 14 points.
The La Porte defense went through the classic "bend but don't break" scenario in those first two quarters, allowing nearly 200 yards of offense by the Mavericks but still pitching a shutout. The Bulldog offense, on the other hand, racked up a little over 200 yards of offense in the first half but reached the end zone just twice.
The Bulldog defense was up the challenge on the first Maverick possession as Hoza Scott made a couple of tackles and Ellis Hutchinson picked off a Memorial aerial attempt, allowing the Dogs to set up at the Maverick 46.
After Keith Whitely got a yard, quarterback Josh Vidales and the offensive line took over. With the likes of Maurice Morris and Justin King and Tony Briones and Corey Lee and Trevor Nelson and Michael Leagan and Jose Garcia clearing running lanes all night, Vidales ran three straight plays, all to the right. He got 12 yards and a first down on the first one; he added seven yards via the identical route on the second one; and he ran all the way down to the four on the third one, setting up a first and goal.
From that point Taejon Wearen took a handoff left, went way wide and scooted into the end zone untouched. Eric Medina booted the extra point and the Dogs had a 7-0 lead with 9:35 left in the first period.
That, however, was it for the scoring until just before the end of the first half. We will note, however, that Chad Sutherland and Chris Hickey and Corey Lee and Hoza Scott and Cameron Whilley and Victor Holmes and Malik Graves and Tyrone Graves and Tyler Davis and Aaron Nance-Garrett and Alex Jones all had strong individual efforts on defense, despite the considerable yardage the Mavericks were able to amass.
We will add that senior Nance-Garrett played well on defense in those first 24 minutes, and had the hit of the game. He smoked a Maverick runner short of a first down, with a hit that could be heard high in the stands. And let's point out that Cameron Whilley had a great tackle on a fourth-and-two situation deep in Bulldog territory, allowing La Porte to take over on downs on the Dog 13.
It was from that point, by the way, that the Bulldogs started their second scoring drive of the night. They got 14 yards from Whitely on the first play; got three more from Keith before Johnathan Lewis stepped off 13 yards and a first down with a spinning run; added nine yards by Whitely; and took advantage of a six-yard run by Hoza Scott for another first down.
After a loss of two, Scott -- in for a slightly injured Whitely -- took a pitch right, was hit near the line, broke free, got into the secondary, was hit again, stumbled and regained his balance and got 33 yards in all, to the Maverick 12. He then added four, but Wearen was stopped for a loss of four to make it third and 10. So Vidales went back to pass, rolling right; he was rushed, so he cut back to the left; he went wide, then cut again at the five and sprinted into the end zone for the score. Medina booted the extra point and the Dogs had a 14-0 advantage with 2:44 left before the half.
After absolutely first-rate halftime performances by the Chatos Drill Team and the Mighty Bulldog Marching Band, the La Porte offense took the opening kickoff of the third period and marched crisply to a three-touchdown lead. Moving from their own 25, the Dogs got 15 yards from Lewis; they got six yards from Vidales; they got four more from Josh and a first down at the 50; and then they hit the home run. Whitely got the handoff and followed blocking expertly. It was a great, twisting run with cuts and darts and dashes, and it covered the full 50 to the end zone. Medina was true, as usual, and the Dogs were up by 21 points with 10:29 still remaining in the third quarter.
After the defense did its job, the offense got the ball on the La Porte 40 and soon extended the lead. First there was a quick-hitter from Vidales to Wearen, with Taejon splitting the defense and racing 35 yards to the Maverick 25. And then came another home run.
Vidales faked a handoff, started left, made a nice cut, had to spin away from one would-be tackler, went right, made another cut and blitzed into the end zone. The Medina extra point extended the lead to 28-0 with 6:51 remaining in quarter number three.
Let's make sure we point out that defensively, the Bulldogs had some more big plays. For instance, Victor Holmes had back-to-back tackles; Sutherland and Scott and Tyrone Graves combined for a fourth-down stopper; Whilley and Scott teamed up for a big tackle; and Malik Graves made an impressive open-field tackle. The result was that the Mavericks also were not able to get any points in the third period.
The Bulldogs scored TD No. 5 on the night with a nice offensive movement that featured outstanding blocking up front, and some fine runs as well. The drive covered 87 yards in all, and started relatively modestly as Lewis got two yards and Wearen added six before the Mavs were flagged for offsides, giving the Dogs a first down.
Lewis stepped off six yards to set up a Wearen beauty. Taejon went wide left, cut back toward the middle of the field, got open and raced 41 yards to the Maverick 27. After Johnathan added six, Scott bulled for eight and a first down. Hosa then ran hard up the middle for seven more, and it was Lewis who got the honors for the TD on a counter right. With the Medina automatic it was 35-0 in favor of the Dogs with just over five minutes remaining.
Let's not finish this without adding that Trevor Mouton had a big hit defensively to force a Maverick punt with 2:57 remaining. Also, we were told that a John Snelson high school team has never been shut out. If that is true, it still stands because the Mavs took advantage of a La Porte fumble to score with 2:13 remaining, resulting in a final score of 35-7. The Bulldogs had 394 yards of offense on the night and 24 first downs. They got all but 35 of those yards on the ground, as the one successful pass in four attempts was the quick-hitter to Wearen. Whitely had 87 rushing yards to lead the way; Lewis added 79; Vidales totaled 66 yards rushing; and Scott had six carries for 54 yards.
The Mavericks had 322 yards of total offense but just the one TD.