Hurricanes break into win column
MISSOURI CITY — Not this day.
This is history Hightower doesn’t want to make.
The Hurricanes, who played for a state championship seven years ago, picked up their first win and avoided their first six-loss season with a 24-3 win over Texas City on Friday at Hall Stadium.
“This means a lot,” Hightower coach Padriac McGinnis said.
“We had a big senior class, 14 starters and 30 lettermen came back, and our expectations were high, and we haven’t lived up to those expectations for many reasons, discipline … bad luck — and we do practice.
“Trust me, we do practice everything, but we haven’t been executing.”
Hightower improved to 1-5 overall, 1-2 in District 10-5A-I, in a season many observers believed quarterback Bralon Addison’s alma mater would be reinvigorated by a move from Class 6A to 5A.
That hasn’t been the case for the one-time powerhouse.
The Hurricanes, who went 10-0 in the regular season only three years ago, never lost six games in one year their first 18 varsity seasons, although they’ve come close recently, with back-to-back 5-5 records.
They also weren’t that far away from starting 5-0 this season.
The 0-5 start included five setbacks by a combined 24 points, allowing them to make a reasonable case for best winless team in the state. They stumbled 14-13 against Angleton last week, and 7-3 to Terry.
“We’ve been very unlucky,” McGinnis said. “I don’t know if a black cat ran in front of me or what.
“But it was very important to get this first win.”
They came out determined to seize it.
The Canes scored on their opening series as wide receiver Jaelon Watkins took a short pass, slipped to the left sideline, picked up a blocker and cruised to the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown.
But the rest of the half didn’t go as smoothly, for either team.
Hightower punted on its next four possessions, then missed a 29-yard field goal attempt — after punter/punt returner/receiver Chance Ceaser set them up at the Texas City 9 with a 34-yard return.
Ceaser also made backto-back spectacular catches for 10 and 40 yards early — after a precision punt by Texas City punter Alex Paz rolled to a stop inside Hightower’s 1 — but the drive eventually fizzled out.
The Stingarees were less successful, managing only two first-half first downs.
The second was on a 26yard snag by receiver Dayton Booker, moving the Stings to the Hightower 33, but defensive back D.J. Sasser intercepted quarterback Phillip McDaniel on the next play.
So the Hurricanes took their 7-0 lead into the break.
Then they scored on three consecutive possessions in the second half to erase all doubt down the stretch.
Trevon Johnson, who didn’t touch the ball during the first half, powered the first score, carrying on four straight plays to start the drive, including a 27-yard run, and then scoring one a 1-yard dive.
Then Texas City quarterbacks tossed consecutive interceptions, leading to two more scores.
The Stingarees finished with four turnovers and 175 total yards.
“This is going to sound crazy … (but) we might have the No. 1 defense in the district,” McGinnis said.
“We play defense at Hightower.”
Isaiah Essissima’s pick led to a 25-yard field goal by backup kicker Edgar Espinoza, and Quinton Sharkey’s 49-yard INT return set up a 1-yard TD run by Brandon Smith for a 24-3 lead with 7:17 left.
Hightower amassed 259 total yards.
“We’ve just got to work on execution,” McGinnis said.
“This win is good. This is one. I thought we were going to be 8-2 this year, or 9-1, but we’ve got four more games to go, and we’ve got to take them one at a time.”
Hightower’s Isaiah Essissima (30) celebrates after a second-half interception against Texas City during Friday night’s game at Hall Stadium in Missouri City.