Barbers Hill players signal fumble recovery on a bad snap in Port Neches-Groves punt formation late in the first half Friday in Port Neches. From left,are Jayden Marron, Cavin Branin, Kade McCall and Rex Thompson.

BH wins first 5A district title

PORT NECHES — Barbers Hill is a district football champion once again.

The Eagles won their first district title since moving up to 5A and the first overall since 2011 Friday night when they won 40-35 at Port Neches-Groves to win their eighth straight game and remain unbeaten in District 

Barbers Hill (8-1, 6-0) wraps up the season at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Santa Fe in Mont Belvieu.

“It was a good game and atmosphere, and everyone knew what we were playing for,” Barbers Hill head coach Tom Westerberg said. “It was a hard-fought game played between two good teams. There was only one punt in the game so both offenses came to play. It came down to who broke serve.

“It was just a score and an answer.”

The Indians and the Eagles exchanged scoring drives throughout the first half, as six of the eight series ended in touchdowns. The Indians got things started with a 70-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard run by quarterback Blake Bost for the first touchdown, despite suffering several losses from three sacks. 

The Eagles responded with their own 60-yard drive finishing with quarterback Christian Kaopua connecting with Cameron Cauley on a 20-yard pass for their own first touchdown.

The Indians and Eagles scored again on both of their next possessions. From the 10-yard line, Bost handed the ball to Kaleb Wuenschel, who passed to Ryan Sosa for the touchdown. The Eagles, likewise, responded again with a 4-yard run by Kaopua for a touchdown at the end of a 66-yard drive with 7:09 left in the second quarter.

Both teams were flagged for personal fouls that brought the Indians from 1 yard away from scoring to the Eagles’ 16, then back half the distance to the goal to the 8. Wuenschel caught an 8-yard pass for the third PNG score. 

Barbers Hill had its turn to score again with 1:56 left in the half from a 3-yard run by Kaopua, but the Eagles’ prospects were threatened when Alvaro Garcia failed to make the extra point. 

PNG’s lead didn’t last long. Their first stopped drive ended when Tate Sandell, attempting to punt, lost control of the ball while in his own end zone. Barbers Hill recovered to take the lead for the first time 27-21 as the half ended.

The teams again exchanged touchdowns in the beginning of the second half. Barbers Hill scored off a 58-yard drive of the second half. Kaopua ran in the final 11 yards to make the score 33-21 without the extra point. 

“We got to go up at the end of the first half, got the ball to start the second half and were able to go down and score,” Westerberg said. “That was a huge score to put us up two scores.”

PNG came back with a 68-yard drive ended by a 21-yard TD pass to Zane Hernandez. The Indians tried to recover an onside kick, but the ball didn’t travel far enough, putting Barbers Hill in great field position at the Indians’ 42. A 30-yard pass to Cauley from Kaopua brought the score to 40-28 with 1:22 left in the third quarter.

PNG brought the game within its grasp, trailing40-35 in the fourth after a 78-yard drive that ended on an easy 2-yard touchdown pass to Brady Nail.

PNG was only one possession away from taking the lead again with 8:25 left in the fourth quarter, and the Indians had extraordinary opportunities to do so. On a Barbers Hill possession at the Indians’ 13, the PNG defense forced Kaopua to fumble and linebacker Donovan Bergeron recovered to take possession with 2:22 left. The Indians made it down to the Eagles’ 47, only to be intercepted by defensive back Ashton Hamby. The Eagles took the remaining 1:53 to run out the clock.

The Eagles can relax next week and get ready for the playoffs, but Westerberg wants to keep his team dialed in.

“The kids are flying high: believing in the coaches, the program and what we are doing,” Westerberg said. “Now we can check off playoffs and district championship and now it’s on to bigger and better things. It’s big that the kids have worked extremely hard and bought in to get us to this point. We were a little way off when we first got here. Now it’s fun to see the kids accomplish what they set out to do.

“We will use this next week to try to win the next game.”

-Alan Dale contributed to this story.

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