Hur­ri­canes break into win col­umn

Houston Chronicle - - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL - By Ja­son McDaniel COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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.”

Tim Warner / Con­trib­u­tor

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.

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