By Melissa McCaghren
The Tigers have so far had a bit of a rough season. They were 1-2 going into District, and missed two weeks of play due to an outbreak of COVID in the school.
That said, the team started their District play on the right foot, winning 19-8 Friday evening (Oct. 2) against new District opponent Kermit.
Head Coach Lawrence Johnson was happy the team won, but said they still needed to improve in areas if they were to earn that elusive District Champion trophy.
“We didn’t show up the first half consistently. We kept trading momentum with Kermit throughout the entire game. Still had too many personal fouls that we need to get cleaned up,” he said.
That said, things turned around in the second half, showing the team’s potential. “Our offense capitalized on some drives and saw the end zone in the second half. We have to play four quarters of football to be successful in District,” added Johnson.
The first couple of quarters, both teams kept each other scoreless.
In the third quarter, Slaton finally placed a score on the board when Zephron Ortiz crossed the endzone on a 14-yard run. He then followed it up with a 69-yard TD run.
In the fourth, Ortiz would then score again on a one-yard run, with Tae Thompson successfully kicking the extra point.
“Zephron and the offensive line were responsible for three touchdowns,” said Johnson.
Kermit was not content however to end up scoreless in this game and scored on a 24-yard pass. The two point conversion also completed.
Johnson said the team was disappointed to not have a shutout, though admitted it could have been prevented.
“Our defense played well enough to not lose the game. We are upset about giving up a TD on fourth down late in the fourth because of a mental error in coverage,” he said.
“Our defense has to do a better job of tackling and swarming to the ball. We have been consistent with creating turnovers in games and that is something we use to give our offense momentum.”
On the night, Eli Perez completed two of five passes for 71 yards. He had no interceptions.
Top rusher was Ortiz, who rushed 21 times for 158 yards.
Also rushing for yards were CJ Anzley (four times for 22 yards), Elijah Williams (six times for 20 yards), TJ Payne (three times for 17 yards) and Jacorien Doss (once for five yards).
Doss received the ball once for 57 yards and Andre Trotty had one catch for 14 yards.
On the night, the Tigers had 292 total yards and punted three times for an average of 26.6 yards. Kermit had a total of 232 yards on the night, punting three times for 27.6 yards on average.
Slaton lost one fumble, while Kermit lost two.
Now the Tigers get ready to play the Denver City Mustangs, another new team in the District.
It is also homecoming, which was rescheduled from its original date Sept. 18 due to the High School COVID closure.
While it usually is a time for celebration, Johnson said they are preparing for the game as though it was a regular week. This is especially true as the Mustangs, like the Tigers, are 2019 Area finalists.
“We are preparing like we would for any other opponent with film and practice. They bring a winning culture to the District and are picked ahead of us in District. We have to play with a chip on our shoulder every week and win each day of preparation,” he said.
Johnson doesn’t think the team will be distracted either with the fun that’s associated with Homecoming.
“Our kids are used to distractions since June 10th, so we will continue to enforce the importance of staying mentally focused but also take in the homecoming festivities supporting our team,” he said.
The Tigers will continue their quest for a District title Friday at 7 p.m. Those who cannot attend can view the game on the Slaton ISD YouTube page, SlatonTigers.
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(Editor’s note: Game time information is correct as of press time Tuesday, Oct. 6. Should there be any changes or cancellations, The Slatonite will update it on its website and Facebook page).