To say Calallen head coach Phil Danaher was displeased with his team's performance in their 21-7 loss against the Flour Bluff Hornets Friday night would be an understatement.
"What happened was a fiasco," Danaher said. "We dropped passes, we missed blocks, we didn't tackle well… I guess we didn't play good, sound football."
Coming into the game, the Wildcats had a perfect 7-0 record for the season and 4-0 in district play. In order to clinch the division championship, they had to beat the Hornets in Flour Bluff.
Calallen won the coin toss and elected to receive to start the game, but were unable to gain any ground and punted the ball on fourth down. The Hornets made some progress, but soon the Wildcats defense got Flour Bluff into a fourth and 21 situation on Calallen's 21-yard line.
The Hornets tried for a field goal, but a personal foul against the Wildcats gave Flour Bluff first and goal. However, Calallen forced a fumble at the three-yard line on the very next play. The Wildcats were once again stopped without gaining any yards and were forced to punt for the second time.
Flour Bluff scored their first touchdown on the subsequent play on a 33-yard run by Chris Greenwell with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
Calallen answered back with a 77-yard drive culminating with a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tanner Sparks to tie the game early in the second quarter, but were unable to stop the Hornets from scoring again to retake the lead, this time on a 10-yard run by quarterback Jackson Bonnette.
The Wildcats once again found themselves with no gain on a drive after Sparks was sacked for an 8-yard loss that brought up fourth and 14, forcing another punt by Calallen. Flour Bluff capitalized on the stop with a 57-yard touchdown run by Bonnette with 49 seconds left in the half.
By the end of the half, the Wildcats had managed only 68 yards total offense, with 52 yards rushing and five first downs, to the Hornets 210 yards, with 191 rushing yards and 13 first downs.
"We had some momentum at the beginning, but we just kind of crumbled," Sparks said. "But I'll take some blame for that. We really didn't execute as well as we should have."
Calallen looked much stronger at the start of the second half, stopping Flour Bluff in their starting drive and returning the punt to the Hornets' 10-yard line. However, after Sparks was sacked for 10 yards and an additional penalty for five more yards, the Wildcats were forced to kick a field goal which Flour Bluff was able to block and recover at their own 30-yard line.
The Hornets managed to get 59 yards on their drive before finding themselves on fourth and four at Calallen's 11-yard line. The Wildcats returned the favor by blocking Flour Bluff's field goal attempt, but were once again unable to make any progress and punted the ball on fourth and 17.
Calallen forced a fumble on the Hornets' drive. However, they were unable to gain much ground before turning the ball over on downs. The Wildcats then forced Flour Bluff to punt on fourth and 19, but the Hornets forced a fumble, setting up a 44-yard touchdown run by Orelando Pratt with 2:13 left in the game.
Calallen ended their final drive with a pass intercepted by Flour Bluff with 1:10 left, allowing the Hornets to run the clock and giving them a 28-7 victory and first place in the division standings.
"Really, I think they were hungrier than we were," Danaher said. "I mean, they got after us from the opening whistle. We came back, made it 7-7, but we were in it to win. I mean, even at 21-7 I felt that we were still going to come back, but you've got to execute to come back and we didn't. We failed to execute offensively.
"It was a team effort, let me put it that way: the offense was inept, the defense just as much."
The Wildcats, who averaged 390 yards total offense prior to their game against Flour Bluff, finished the game with only 89 yards, with 54 yards rushing on 21 carries. Quarterback Sparks went 10-20 passing for 35 yards total. Flour Bluff's offense managed 339 yards total with 314 yards rushing on 57 carries. The Hornets also had 22 first downs, over three times the number Calallen had.
"You know, this is a good lesson for us," Danaher said. "It's not the lesson we wanted, but you've got to get out and play every down like it's the last down or the most important down."
"We're going to grow from this (loss) and get better," Sparks said. "We're still a good team. There isn't any doubt about that."
With the loss, the Wildcats have pretty much been knocked out of contention for the district championship. Flour Bluff would have to lose their next two games and Calallen win their next two for them to regain the lead.
"Well, we go back and we play next week and the following week we'll get in the playoffs," Danaher said of the remainder of the season. "We'll see how we do there."
"Last time we lost a district game to Flour Bluff, we went to the state championship," Sparks said, "so you never know what can happen from here."
This week, the Wildcats will be on the road again as they take on the H. M. King Brahmas. The Brahmas are 4-4 this season and 3-2 in district play. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Next week will be Calallen's homecoming game where their opponent will be the Laredo Cigarroa Toros.