Barbers Hill's big first quarter too much for REL to overcome
Barbers Hill may have had Mother Nature’s coldest day of the fall on its side, but they also brought plenty of punch when Robert E. Lee came to visit Friday night.
The Eagles used a tremendous first quarter to build a lead they would never relinquish, and they rolled to a 28-0 homecoming night win and moved into sole possession of the District 12-5A I lead.
Barbers Hill (5-1, 3-0) broke open the game in the first minutes of the contest, jumping out to a 21-0 lead behind a blocked punt and two Christian Kaopua touchdown runs.
But this win started with special teams play.
“That blocked punt was awesome,” Barbers Hill head coach Tom Westerberg said. “Our kids are buying into it and they practice really hard. You can steal some points that way.”
When Kaopua ran his second touchdown in from 12 yards with 5:26 left in the first quarter the Eagles were well on their way to putting a stamp on their dominance this night with the help of a blustery wind at their backs in those first 12 minutes.
Kaopua finished 9-for-18 passing for 164 yards with one touchdown and one pick while he ran eight times for 37 yards. Canden Grogan caught three passes for 110 yards and one touchdown.
Then there was the Barbers Hill defensive effort.
The Eagles swarmed all over REL (4-2, 1-2) senior quarterback Ijenea Wooley, forcing the signal caller to not complete a pass all night while running mostly to avoid constant pressure before finishing with 68 yards on the ground.
“We had a great defensive game plan and they put a ton of points on the board a year ago,” Westerberg said. “Our kids, they watched video and played a heck of a lot harder than a year ago, so it was a whole different ball game.”
Last year Barbers Hill held on for a 52-49 win in Baytown.
Jabier Quinones finished with 80 yards on six carries, 76 coming late in the contest on one run that got REL to the Barbers Hill goal line, but they were still kept from scoring.
“It was the first time we had weather conditions affect the game and we got pinned in a hole early and we got whipped in every phase of the game,” REL head coach Tim Finn said. “Credit to them. We were in the red zone a couple of times and could get nothing out of it. They prepared better and we weren’t very good.”
The Barbers Hill defensive line was quicker than recent REL opponents and was able to penetrate the gaps and force Wooley to not have enough time to find open receivers.
“They won the line of scrimmage,” Finn said. “You are not going to win games if you don’t win the line of scrimmage. Their defense played very well and were very aggressive. We didn’t throw the ball very good and we didn’t catch the ball very good. We didn’t protect the quarterback very good.”
Westerberg takes pride in his emphasis on special teams and has sold the important role they play and against REL it was no different as Josh King-Bradley blocked the Ganders first punt attempt and Rex Thompson recovered in the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead 66 seconds into the contest.
It was Thompson’s second straight game with a special teams touchdown after returning an onside kick for a score in last week’s win at Nederland.
“It’s really a team effort and I always get lucky with the great teammates I have,” Thompson said. “I was on clouds and I can’t describe a better moment like that. One of our main goals this year is to push our special teams to be better.”
Barbers Hill’s attack admittedly stalled as the game wore on and after Kaopua’s second run came against a REL team not coming out to the field fast enough after a time out and being out of position to stop the play, only his 66-yard scoring pass to Grogan midway through the second quarter may have caused Eagles fans to take notice.
“It was another hot start, we just have to figure out a way to continue it,” Westerberg said. “We went a little flat in the second half again and we will have to get that corrected. But we will take those starts every day. Every win is a big win in this district.”
On one upbeat note for the Ganders, after the early onslaught, they buckled down defensively and kept the game from getting out of hand even though the REL offense couldn’t get off the mark and all the momentum was all on the Eagles side.
“They competed to the end,” Finn said. “But no matter how hard we tried, it seemed the worse it got. It was Murphy’s Law, but a lot of that goes to the credit of Barbers Hill.”
Other District 12-5A I results
Crosby 13, Port Neches-Groves 7
Nederland 29, Dayton 17
Vidor 10, Santa Fe 0
Standings as of 10/11/2019
Barbers Hill (3-0), Crosby (2-1), PN-G (2-1), Nederland (2-1), Vidor (2-1), REL (1-2), Santa Fe (0-3), Dayton (0-3).