By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The 2012 season has come to an end for the Port Isabel High football team. The Tarpons were shut out, 22-0, by the Bellville Brahmas in the Region IV championship game Saturday night at Cabaniss Stadium.
Bellville scored on their first two possessions and took a 14-0 first quarter lead. The Brahmas benefited from uncharacteristic Tarpon errors on special teams and an off night by their offensive line. Not once all season long had the Tarpons snapped the ball over the punter’s head. On Saturday night it happened twice. Bellville got the ball inside the PI 10-yard line the first time and got their second touchdown on fourth down from the three. In the second quarter, the Tarpon punter chased the ball down and stepped out of the end zone for a safety. The Brahmas added a field goal seconds before halftime and led 19-0 at the break.
“They played better than we did,” Tarpons Head Coach Monty Stumbaugh said. “We made too many mistakes.”
The Tarpons got the ball first and punted from their own 25-yard line. Bellville started at its own 43 and 12 plays later got on the board with a five-yard Bronson Allen run and the Brahmas led 7-0.
“Watching the video, we felt like the first touchdown should have been a field goal,” Stumbaugh said. “We got a dead ball foul.” The Tarpons were penalized 15 yards, and third down and 16 became first and goal at the seven. Two plays later Bellville was in the end zone.
Bellville, 11-3, advances as the Region IV champions and will play Navasota this Saturday night in the state semi-finals at Waller. Port Isabel ends its 2012 season with a 10-4 record including three playoff wins and an appearance in the regional final for the first time in nine years.
The story for Port Isabel was much better on the defensive side of the ball. The Tarpons’ “Seawall Defense” held Bellville to 228 yards of total offense, including 122 yards, their sixth-lowest total of the season, on the ground. The Brahmas averaged less than three yards per carry on 41 attempts. In the second half, Bellville ran four offensive series before they ran out the clock on their fifth and final possession of the night. They punted twice, turned the ball over on a fumble, and got another Kyle Fuchs field goal for their only points of the half.
“Our defense played superb,” Stumbaugh said after the game.
Luis Aguilera forced the fumble that Jose Garza recovered in the fourth quarter. In the first half, Kenny Herrera intercepted a Kyle Fuchs pass. Linebacker Esteven Montelongo led the team in tackles with nine total stops. Linebacker Jorge Mondragon recorded eight total tackles, and Jacques Guillot, Jimmy Hernandez, and Marco Colorado had seven tackles each.
On making it as far as they did in this season’s playoffs, Kenny Herrera said, “It will be something I can remember the rest of my life. When I come back (to Port Isabel) I can say I’m glad I was a Tarpon and that I played on this team.”
“We’re going to work hard in the off-season,” Esteven Montelongo said. “We’ll be back next year and, hopefully, win it all.”
“We’re still disappointed,” Nick Bomarito said. “I think we’re going to have a pretty good team next year.”
The Tarpons look to return seven offensive and five defensive starters for the 2013 season, including most of the offensive line and backfield.
Of the five Tarpon running backs who totaled over 300 yards rushing on the season, only senior Javier Vela will not return. Vela ran for 1,116 yards in 2012, scored 14 touchdowns, and averaged 10 yards a carry. Vela was unable to play against Bellville due to a leg injury sustained in the regional semi-final overtime win against Navarro. In that game it was Vela who scored the touchdown and the two-point conversion that tied the game with a second to play and sent it into overtime.
Junior quarterback Isaiah Martinez, who accounted for over 1,200 yards of total offense and 18 touchdowns this season, will be back next year. Also returning in 2013 will be the Tarpons’ leading ground gainer for the season, Jacob Losoya, who rushed for 1,214 yards and scored nine times.
Martinez will be without his top three 2012 receivers. Micheal Curry (10 catches, 183 yards, 4 TD’s), Andrew Holland (6, 195, 3), and Javier Vela (9, 141, 1) are all scheduled to graduate next spring.
“It really started when we got off the bus (Saturday night),” Stumbaugh said about next season’s preparations. “We’ll give them a week to rest up, then semester tests, then get ready to hit it.”
“Our kids never quit fighting,” Stumbaugh continued. “We’re very proud of them. (This is) a great group of kids. Our seniors did a fantastic job of leading the kids.”
Read this story in the Dec. 13 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.