The Calhoun Sandcrabs won the ultimate chess match to claim the district title against rival Calallen, 17-6, at home last Friday night.
In a defensive battle, the Sandcrabs defense came out on top, forcing four turnovers and holding the Calallen offense to only six points.
“Well, if people came here thinking this was a going to be a shootout, we knew it was going to be different,” Sandcrabs Head Coach Richard Whitaker said.
The game had two defenses that were getting after it, Whitaker said, and two offenses that were trying to find their way.
Sandcrabs linebacker Cade Kveton said it was amazing holding Calallen to only six points, and he said he and fellow linebacker Elijah Harvey played great. He added that he and Harvey did a fantastic job.
The Sandcrabs got on the board first with a 23-yard field goal by Joseph Quezada with 10:04 left in the first quarter. The first touchdown of the game came on a 37-yard score by Sandcrabs quarterback Conner Kestler, putting them up 10-0 at the end of the first half.
The momentum continued for the Sandcrabs with an 85-yard return of Callallen’s second-half kickoff by Sandcrabs defense back Jarius Stewart.
“The return by Jarius was the biggest play in the game,” Whitaker said. “It got us the momentum in the third quarter; going 17-nothing was huge.”
Kestler talked about how his offense got past a tough Calallen team. He said beating Calallen proves that his team can play with anybody. He added Calallen had the best defense in south Texas, and nobody can score on them.
Early in the season, the Sandcrabs forfeited their win against Alice, but Whitaker said that had been erased, and he told his players that he needs them more than they need him.
“They told me they had my back, and they had it all year long,” Whitaker said. “So we get to erase this forfeit now we’re district champs, and we’re playing at home next week, and we’re moving forward to the playoffs.“
Sandcrabs fullback Steve Johnson said winning the district title was an emotional feeling and, after the Alice game, Whitaker told him and the team to do something to get him back up.
“He loves this team crazy and, knowing there was a mistake like that, he felt he had a chip on his shoulder,” Johnson said. “We had a chip on our shoulder to prove everyone wrong because everyone turned their backs on us.”
Kestler said the forfeit put his team behind the eight-ball early in the district race, and their motto moving forward was to go 1-0 each week and take that motto through the playoffs.
“We told ourselves after Alice ‘we aren’t gonna lose another game’,” Kveton said. “We’re gonna get that weight off Coach Whit’s back, and it feels great to do it.”
With the district title win, the Calhoun Sandcrabs will host a home playoff game against the Sharyland Rattlers.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. in Sandcrabs Stadium.
--Stats and Players of the Week—
Kestler: 17 carries for 141 yards and one touchdown
Johnson: 18 carries for 70 yards and one touchdown
Offensive player of the week: Kestler
Kveton: eight tackles and tied with four Sandcrabs with three assists
Harvey: two tackles for loss and tied with Damian Chavez for one fumble recovery
Dekyn Garcia: one interception
Defensive players of the week: Jacob Laughlin and Harvey