SUPER DAN DOES IT AGAIN IN VELA SMASH OVER JAGS
His preternatural balance, unrivaled vision, uncanny ability to make ‘em miss … his flair for the cutback, tremendous hands, excellent speed and underrated strength … it all makes Daniel Enriquez one of the best football players in a city football history that dates back 100 years.
And it all started in his backyard.
“My older brothers used to always be after me, so I learned early on how to get away, I had to do that,” said Enriquez, who ran away from Econ for three first-half touchdowns in a thorough 42-7 Vela rout Friday night. “So I guess I have Nick and Julian to thank for that.”
Actually, he ran away from the Jags (0-2 in District 31-6A, 3-3 overall) twice, on 43-yard and 96-yard bombs from super sophomore quarterback A.J. Sotelo. The third score, from 14 yards out, was more superhero than elusive youngster. After the SaberCats (2-0, 6-0) saw the Jags come to within 21-7 late in the second period, less than two minutes remained. Sotelo, who was absolutely lasers in the half (11 of 11 for 214 yards) ran the drill like a veteran, completing 5 of 5 balls and running 14 yards for a first down. His fifth connection came to No. 5 on the whip route; he turned after catching the bullet at the 10, and headed for the end zone. Let him explain. We shall try to comprehend.
“When I caught it, I knew where the defenders were, I had already seen them and knew where they were headed,” he said, adding that this sort of recognition/memory helps him make his amazing plays. “So I turned in instead of out. I started for the end zone, was going to dive but saw where those guys had come, and decided to stay up.”
Stay up he did, as Enriquez bolted forward and into the air, through the tackle tries of those two unfortunate Jags, knocking each one to the turf as he hurtled into the Good Place, staying on his feet to boot. With 0:27 left in the half, it was Vela, 28-7, and the crowd just stared, open-mouthed, as crowds tend to do when confronted by yet another mind-boggling display of athleticism. He just knew. And he just performed.
So the numbers. Three catches, 153 yards, 18 points, and another example of what makes the incredible senior one of the finest receivers in city annals, ahead of 1990s’ star Omar Guerra of North and maybe even close to Steve Alaniz of EHS (he played at Notre Dame and is in the RGV Sports Hall of Fame) and then there’s … um, and … we’re waiting.
Enriquez’s dazzling exploits were more than enough for the Sabes to dispatch a sixth consecutive opponent – they’ve notched 255 points in that span – and they helped Sotelo into another outstanding passing night. He finished a silly 15 of 16 for 293 yards, showing his increasing comfort at the varsity level with some nifty reads and checks, plus the scramble for a first down. For real, man, he is.
After the win, Coach John Campbell was quite able to wax eloquent about his QB and WR.
“Daniel is just a special player, there’s no doubt,” the second-year leader stressed. “You know, there are really good athletes who may not be really good football players. But some are both, and Daniel is one, he makes it look so easy out there.”
The coach noted that Enriquez tracks the ball better than any high school player he’s seen in a long time.
“He also has that extra gear, he can turn it on and off in a heartbeat,” Campbell enthused, joking that, “I tell you, he really makes a coach look good out there.”
As for Sotelo, Campbell shook his head in the affirmative.
“He is developing just like we thought he could, and he is getting better every week,” he said. “He puts the ball where it needs to be, gives our guys a chance to make a play. The game has slowed down for him the past few games, which means that he is doing some things that he might not have been able to do at the start of the season. We couldn’t be happier with A.J., he is getting to the point where he makes a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage, which is impressive for a sophomore.”
The SaberCats were uber-efficient Friday, scoring on all four drives in the first half and their first two of the second. They gained 457 total yards and limited Econ to 230. The Jags had two solid drives in the first half, one of which scratched for six on a 12-yard Albert Guerra touchdown run in the second period.
But then came the Bam! Pow! Whack! near the halftime gun, and the Sabes would not be headed.
Defensively it was a workmanlike effort from Vela, which got solid nights from safety Ivan Mendoza, linebacker Michael Brulloths, and tackle Brandon Beebe, among others. With kicker Tate Scott sidelined by a quad strain, soccer whiz Ricky Aparicio stepped in and converted six extra points in succession. The only downside to the affair was that a tremendous 94-yard second-half dash to the house by senior Rosendo Ramirez was nullified by penalty. Don’t worry, Rosy, we saw what you did there, bro!
Vela now looks to a tasty adventure on several levels, on the road Friday against the Weslaco Panthers, a team coached by … well, you know. The Panthers are 5-0 and have blasted through their foes by the aggregate score of 196-48. Be there.
The Jags now need to regroup after having been outscored 86-7 the past two weeks, and will attempt to do so Thursday at home against Donna North. Indefatigable Abel Moreno had nine tackles Friday and DB Bryan Saavedra added eight. Back from injury, senior Jonathan Martinez snared three passes (on the same drive) for 37 yards.
NOTES: The Observer has experienced a sketchy season so far in terms of journalistic turnovers. Last week he insisted that Jaime Garcia Jr. was out with an injury for the Sabes, when the truth is, Jaime Perez Jr. is the player in question, and a good one at that. Now, who is Jaime Garcia? Isn’t he the former Valley product, Reynosa-born, who has won 70 games in the Major Leagues as a pitcher? Onward we go.