By Constancio Martinez, Jr.
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Tarpons and Raymondville Bearkats met this past Friday night with both teams’ sights on the district title. Unfortunately, for the Tarpons, the Bearkats put their foot on the pedal and never looked back as they cruised to a 63-7 win. With wins over Rio Hondo and Port Isabel, the Raymondville Bearkats just need to beat the Red Ants to repeat as District Champs. Meanwhile, Port Isabel and Rio Hondo will be fighting for 2nd and 3rd place spots after both already secured a win over the Red Ants.
Raymondville came into the game with a 35-21 win over Rio Hondo, while Port Isabel came off a dominating 63-0 win over Progreso. So, the fans from both teams came expecting a competitive game. It didn’t take long for the Bearkats to flex their muscles, as on the first play from scrimmage running back ZaRaivion Armendarez bobbed and weaved through the Tarpons’ defense for a 67-yard touchdown run. A successful extra point kick put the Bearkats up 7-0 in a blink of an eye.
On the ensuing drive, the stout Bearkats’ defense held the Tarpons to only five yards in three plays and forced them to punt from their own 21-yard line. With great field position, the Bearkats marched down 56 yards for the score behind the running of Justin Cantu and Armendarez. Another successful extra point kick quickly put the Bearkats up 14-0, with 8:10 still showing in the first quarter.
Unable to find a rhythm, the Tarpons’ drive quickly stalled as they went 3-n-out once again. The Tarpons’ defense had its moments, such as when they tackled the Kats’ QB for a loss on back-to-back plays, only to have Raymondville pull out a play for big yards. So instead of forcing a punt, the Kats scored three plays later and jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Tarpons’ offense continued to struggle early in the game, while the Tarpon defense finally got a stop after defensive end Edgar Orduna got a big sack. Starting at their own 36-yard line, the Tarpons offense started their first serious drive behind the running of Brayan Medina. The Tarpons managed to reach the Bearkats’ 17-yard line, but the QB fumbled the ball as he got hit by a defender. Unable to recover from a big loss of yards, they turned the ball over on downs.
The Tarpons’ defense stepped up once more as they forced the Bearkats offense to go 3-and-out. The Tarpons punt-return team has been struggling with the return all year and this game was no different. Unable to secure the punted ball, the ball bounced all the way down to the 15-yard line. The Tarpons seemed to dig themselves out of the hole until more miscues ensued, as a snapped ball sailed pass the quarterback for an 18-yard loss. Tarpons were forced to punt.
Starting at the Tarpons’ 48-yard line, the Bearkats got on track again and scored in two plays as Justin Smith hit paydirt on a 34-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick put Raymondville up 28-0 with 3:44 left in the 2nd quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, the home crowd was on the edge of their seats as speedster Mac Strunk returned the ball to the 50-yard line. The excitement was short-lived, though, as the Tarpons’ passing game, which did great the week before, could not get going in this game.
Meanwhile, Raymondville was just hitting their stride as Cantu took the handoff and hit the outside for an 84-yard touchdown run. The Tarpons struggled most of the game to contain their speedy players, as the Kats added yet another touchdown right before halftime. Raymondville headed into the locker room up with a commanding 42-0 lead.