FREDERICKSBURG — The May Tigers season came to a sudden and unceremonious end after multiple turnovers directly lead to a 40-30 season-ending loss to Leakey Friday.
After committing numerous turnovers and near turnovers, with two directly resulting in Leakey touchdowns, the youthful Tigers seemed their own worst enemy as Leakey capitalized on every May miscue.
“We just made too many mistakes tonight. They had a fumble for a touchdown, a pick-6.” May coach Craig Steele said. “We came out in the second half with a lead, and planned on going down the field and scoring, but we fumbled the first play. That is when they picked it up and scored and it really turned the momentum against us.”
May seemed to have the momentum early after getting an easy 2 points after an errant snap on fourth-and-long near the goal line. After muffing the ensuing safety punt, Leakey’s Able Montoya found Hunter Williams on a short dump-off to score the Eagles first points of the night and put his team up 6-2. May eventually retook the lead when Seth Johnston found Tyler Wheeler on a 5-yard dump route only for Leakey to take the lead on the first play of the next drive when Williams found daylight on a 47-yard run for a touchdown. May’s Rory Bustamante capped off the Tigers next drive with a short burst into the end zone, giving the Tigers a 16-12 lead going into halftime.
The Tigers hopes of a state championship began to fade early in the third quarter after Leakey’s Jack Morshead picked a fumble, returning it 20 yards for a touchdown. May’s Daniel Salinas, who had seen limited time on offense while nursing sprained ankle, gritted through the pain as he took snaps at running back and eventually found pay-dirt on a 12-yard run.
“The coach was trying to hold me back because of my ankle,” Salinas said. “… I think we were considerably better than [Leakey], we just didn’t get the job done tonight. We have boys that are physically and mentally tough, but injuries were big. I’m not saying injuries got us, it was a lack of focus, but it is what it is.”
Salinas’ score seemed the Tigers last gasp as they played catch-up from there with Leakey scoring on a 22-yard carry by Trace Lackey and again when Montoya made a pick-6 with for 70 yards near the kickoff of the fourth quarter. The Tigers kept it competitive after Bustamante connected with Wheeler again, this time for a 73-yard TD, but it was not enough to catch up to the Eagles.
“I’m super hopeful for next year. There are a lot of young guys on this team with a lot of experience,” Salinas said. “They’re going to get better and better next year and I’m going to be happy to watch these guys. They’re going to make it.”
With the loss the Tigers end the season 8-4 and finished the regular season with a District 14 championship. Although dissuaded by the loss, Steele felt confident his team will be back in the postseason in 2019, bigger, stronger and more experienced than they were in 2018.
“We’re losing three quality football players tonight that we’re going to miss. We have a lot of youth on this team,” Steele said. “I told the kids ‘we’re going to be back and hopefully we learned from it tonight.’ When you get to this point in the playoffs, every team is a quality team and if you make mistakes it’s going to bite you in the butt and that is what happened to us tonight.”