Sanchez powers unbeaten Bangs past Winters

Joey D. Richards
Abilene Reporter News
Bangs quarterback Ethan Cortez hands off to running back Ethan Sanchez in the second quarter.

WINTERS — Ethan Sanchez can be a workhorse at times for the Bangs Dragons. The senior running back also can be a thoroughbred – running for a TD anytime he touches the ball.

Sanchez ran up and down the field at Blizzard Stadium on Friday, amassing 319 yards and three TDs, including scores of 66 and 77 yards, as the unbeaten Dragons scorched Winters 42-19 in the nondistrict game.

“He’s pretty special, no doubt about it,” Bangs coach Kyle Maxfield said. “He’s been playing on Friday nights for a long time now. He’s just a workhorse on both sides of the ball. We’ve got some others who contributed a lot, but he’s definitely the workhorse.”

Sanchez, who also plays linebacker, isn’t the only weapon the Dragons have, and that can be a painful lesson if teams are keying on him.

Quarterback Ethan Cortez added 51 yards on five carries, including a 34-yard TD run. Santillanes ran for a 12-yard TD on his only carry from scrimmage. Oh, and Santillanes returned the game’s opening kickoff 88 yards for a TD to get the Dragons flying.

The Dragons (3-0) rolled up 392 total yards – all but 13 of that on the ground.

“We got into a ground game,” Maxfield said. “Cortez, our quarterback, has a tremendous arm. As the season progresses, we want to develop a more balanced attack with weapons across the field.”

Jon Kullen Busher threw TD passes of 26 and 47 yards to Aidan Lemon and Esteban Gonzalez, respectively, while Houston Esquivel had a 39-yard TD run for the Blizzards (0-3) and led his team with 109 yards on eight carries.

Winters played catch-up all night, despite matching the Dragons’ first TD with a 39-yard TD run by Esquivel to make it a 7-6 game with 3:05 left in the first quarter. The Blizzards missed the PAT.

The next play from scrimmage, Sanchez ripped off the 66-yard TD run, and the Dragons held on for a 14-6 halftime lead.

Winters' Matt Jacob (34) is tackled by a Bangs defender. Bangs beat the Blizzards 42-19 in the nondistrict game Friday, Sept. 11 2020, at Blizzard Stadium.

Winters coach Matt McCarty said playing from behind makes it tough for his team, which prefers to run the football.

“When we’re behind, it puts us behind the eight ball, and it’s a lot harder for us,” McCarty said. “We spend 85-percent of our week focused on the run game offensively. It just puts us behind. It is what is. We have to go make plays even when we are behind.”

Despite falling behind 21-6 early in the second half, Winters didn’t fold.

Winters' Aidan Leamon (12) looks for running room against the Bangs defense. Bangs beat the Blizzards 42-19 on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at Blizzard Stadium.

The Blizzards answered to stay in the hunt at 21-12, thanks to a 26-yard TD pass from Busher to Leamon on a fourth-down play, and never stopped attacking. They just couldn't stop Bangs.

“They’ve got a lot of fight in them,” Maxfield said of Winters. “Coach McCarty and Winters, they’ve got a lot of tradition over here. They’re not going to lay down.”

The Winters Blizzards' mascot runs out onto the field before the Bangs game. Bangs beat the Blizzards 42-19 in the nondistrict game Friday, Sept. 11 2020, at Blizzard Stadium.

Winters fumbled the ball away twice – one of which Bangs cashed into for a TD. The Blizzards also turned the ball over downs at the Bangs’ 26-, 14- and 27-yard lines.

“Some big plays (by Bangs) here and there, and us fumbling the ball, that’s just part of the game we didn’t do very well” McCarty said.

Bangs running back Ethan Sanchez (24) looks for running room as Winters' Aidan Leamon (12), Chaney Bahlman (20) give pursuit in the second quarter. Sanchez scored three TDs in the Dragons' 42-19 victory over Winters on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at Blizzard Stadium.