COLEMAN — After a confidence building win in San Saba last Friday night, the Early Longhorns hit a wall just 30 miles east in Coleman County and suffered a 34-0 loss at Hufford Field on the Coleman Bluecats’ homecoming night.
On a night that very few things would go right for the Longhorns, Coach Kent Hawthorne said, “when you practice like that, you play like that. We had the worst practices I’ve ever seen in my whole high school career. As a coach, you know, you’re gonna play like you practice. We’ve got to go back to the board, you know, we can’t keep making mistakes, you can’t start at first and 15 and put yourself in a bad situation. You can’t arm tackle and these are things we’re trying to fix.”
Hufford Field has rarely been good to the Longhorns and this game was no exception on a Friday the 13th. Wikipedia says that the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th is rooted in the belief that 12 is the complete number – 12 months, 12 signs in the Zodiac, 12 Greek Gods, the 12 tribes of Israel, and Jesus’ 12 Disciples, 13 then is an irregular and an “unlucky” number. Friday has been regarded as the ‘worst’ day to begin a journey, has been considered unlucky since the 14th century writings of The Canterbury Tales, and of course, Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Consequently, Friday the 13th, at least according to superstition, would seem a ‘double whammy’ of bad luck. No one wearing purple in Coleman on Friday night would disagree.
Coleman took the opening kickoff and scored in less than two minutes on a 37-yard pass and tacked on a two-point conversion after an offside penalty against the Longhorns on the PAT attempt to take a 8-0 lead with 10:45 to play in the first quarter. Ultimately, those 8 points were all the Bluecats would need.
It began to be Friday the 13th for the ‘Horns on the following kickoff as an unlikely onside kick by Coleman was successful and the Bluecats scored again less than a minute later to take a 14-0 lead.
After Jake Fisher returned the ensuing kickoff to the Longhorns 23, Bubba Reno was able to lead the ‘Horns offense to a couple of first downs but the drive stalled near midfield. The Longhorns’ bad luck streak began again on Kellan Jackson’s punt on fourth down and 23 which the Bluecats returned 70 yards for a touchdown, or so it appeared at first.
A penalty against Coleman for an illegal block gave the Horns another chance at punt coverage, and this time it looked like Early’s luck was turning when they forced a fumble on Coleman’s return and recovered the ball at the Bluecat 16.
With a chance to get back in the game starting with a first down in the red zone, it looked like the Longhorns might be coming back, but the Bluecats proved up to the task and on fourth and 11, Reno’s pass fell incomplete and Coleman took over on downs.
The Longhorns showed some creativity and spark from time to time throughout the game but could never generate enough momentum to get across the goal line. Fisher ran the ball well at times, and Reno had his best night passing this season, but the Longhorns’ offense never really got on track.
One exciting play in the second quarter, when down by 21, Nick Alcorta passed to Chase Riker for 37 yards on a bit of ‘flea flicker,’ but again, the Horns were unable to sustain the drive and turned the ball over on downs.
The inability of the Longhorn offense to sustain and finish drives put a tremendous and tiring burden on the defense and, in spite of solid play by the defensive linemen, anchored by Landon Beck and Weldon Edwards and linebacker Cody Morrison, Coleman was able to find ways to score both on the ground and through the air.
The Longhorns will be looking for better fortune and will try to move to 2-2 on the year as they host the Ballinger Bearcats in the final game of the pre-district schedule at 7:30 p.m. next Friday night, the 20th, in Early.