The Ballinger Bearcats season came to a halt in the Bi-District round of the playoffs this last Friday in a 56-6 loss to the Eastland Mavericks. At times it can be difficult to find the positive in such an outcome. However, I think there is plenty.
In the first quarter of the game with Eastland up 7-0 Ballinger’s Hagen Garvin threw a pass to Donovan Luna, who had perfect position to catch the ball in the end zone. Eastland’s defender, knowing he was beat for a touchdown did the smart thing, dove and grabbed Donovan’s foot. What should have been a blatant pass interference drew no flags, from both referees in the vicinity. I saw it right in front of me and one of the chain gang from Early even exclaimed he had no idea how it wasn’t called. On the ensuing play Eastland intercepted the pass, returned it for a touchdown and never looked back.
If Ballinger gets that touchdown, or the penalty would we have won? Most likely not, but I am sure that we are looking at a completely different game score after 48 minutes.
There are many players that will be missed next season, but also many who will return with something to prove. Thankful for the memories, the leadership and dedication, gone is this years Senior class as we look forward to next fall.
On the line the Bearcats will say goodbye to Jacob Daniels and Clayton Hagey, but return future Seniors Jace King for his 4th varsity season as a two-way starter, Divad Briones returning for his 3rd varsity season, Riley West and Tyler Lange. Along with them you have a load of youngsters that played a great deal this season in Adolf Medina, Hunter Maresch and sophomore two-way starter Brandon Lancaster. These young players will be able to use the invaluable experience they received this year to make them better in the future.
At skill positions there will be a palpable void as the Bearcats lose Damian Michalewicz, Reid Matschek and many others. Returning Hagen Garvin at quarterback is very important. He might not have had the greatest statistics at times, but more valuable was the experience he gained this year getting to play quarterback for his first time since Junior High school. The improvements he has made since this past summers 7-on-7 is immeasurable, having Coach Tate Smith here to guide him is to valuable to put into words. At receiver the Bearcats will return explosive playmaker Deaundre Manley, who started the season slowly, before exploding into district play. It is my opinion that he will be a first team All-District selection at receiver as a Sophomore and it will be a travesty if he is not. Returning along with him are fellow Sophomore receivers Marcus Toliver, “Smiley” Belk and Jon Marcon, who all displayed a great deal of talent playing against teams loaded with Juniors and Seniors. At running back, if everyone is healthy, I would anticipate an attack that relies less on the talents of one player, like the Bearcats did with Reid Matschek this season, and spread the ball around to a bevy of talented players. I anticipate a load share between Caleb Ornalez, Jayden Rivera and possibly someone such as talented incoming Sophomore Davian Martinez.
On defense it is much the same as the offense. Defensive specialists such as Donte Belk and Diego Alvarado will be gone, but in their place you will have young and hungry players ready to step up if needed. A supremely talented Freshman and Sophomore class should not have to contribute as much this coming season as had to be this year, but will be there for the picking if the coaching staff feels they have a contributor.
To the Bearcat Senior Class of 2017, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. As it was stated in the Alpine pep rally, “We are not there yet, but this is a building block for the greatness that is to come.”