VELA OBLITERATES DONNA NORTH TO RUN TO 8-0 FOR SEASON
There is a tendency to fixate attention on the offense, because the SaberCats do have a tremendous amount of high-octane weapons at their disposal, and have enjoyed this situation for a number of seasons.
But as the latest playoff push takes shape, the team defense is starting to become a real factor as well. Facing winless Donna North at home Thursday, Vela breezed to a 63-0 rout and the D, yielding an average of just 207 yards and a total of 34 points the past four outings, outdid itself.
It was sort of like watching one of those cringe-inducing YouTube videos where the great cats of the jungle attack a defenseless prey, relentlessly diving in for the kill time and time again. The visiting Chiefs, who have gone absolutely nowhere in 6A this season, were the dying animal in question at Richard R. Flores Stadium, gaining just two first downs (one by penalty) and amassing an eye-popping minus-20 in total yards. Donna North suffered through 14 rushing attempts that resulted in negative numbers and never remotely threatened to get into the end zone.
Conversely, Vela produced touchdowns on each of its seven first-half possessions Thursday, punctuating one of the most one-sided mismatches one will ever witness. The Sabes (4-0 in 31-6A, 8-0 overall) prepared for upcoming clashes against Edinburg High and Weslaco East by simply erasing the visitor, systematically and completely.
The offensive parade was led by terrific sophomore passer A.J. Sotelo, who rebounded from a character-building night versus Weslaco to complete 15 of 18 balls for 246 yards and three scores, in the first half. Backup Elijah Trujillo showed his strong and accurate arm with a perfect 9-for-9 outing, good for 104 yards and another touchdown as the Sabes practiced their air game to almost flawless effect.
Coach John Campbell’s No. 1 Valley group produced a 21-0 advantage right away, added 28 more points in the second period and provided the second- and third-teamers ample opportunity to get into the action, after the break. The watchwords in such blowout scenarios: execute, stay injury-free, and make all the mamas happy by getting the Juniors some PT.
Among the subs making standout showings included runner Austin Luna, who showed a nice quick burst with three carries for 55 yards; receiver Matthew Lopez (five catches, one of the TDs), and LB Jasson Esteban, who knifed through for some solid licks. LB Ram Jala came up with a pick and teammate Luis Hernandez recovered a fumble.
This game was so lopsided that junior receiver Justin Cantu collected eight catches and 127 yards in the first two quarters before being banished to the sidelines with the rest of the regulars.
Vela gained 434 yards for the night and it could have been way worse, as it did basically what it pleased versus a Chiefs unit that has now given up an astronomical 480 points in eight losses, or 60 per game, scoring just 53 points during that span. Vela meanwhile has subdued eight foes in succession by an average margin of 29.5 points, and heads into the stretch run looking to tuck away a second consecutive 10-0 regular season, and a second district title along with it.
First up, EHS, which had a contingent of players on hand Thursday to watch the carnage, a day before the 6-1 ‘Cats were to travel east to take on Weslaco at Bobby Lackey Stadium. Then comes the one that folks have been waiting on all fall, the regular season finale Nov. 9 at home against East, a school that also has a tremendous defensive crew and has been getting better each week.