If you wanted a high school football game with all the elements of intrigue and emotion, celebration of teams past, expectations of team present, hope for teams future, great momentum swings, big leads, narrow victories, and a down in the dirt back-yard brawl, Friday night at Eagle Stadium was your kind of football game.
Hennessey ran and threw their way to a 29-6 Halftime lead, able to do whatever they pleased offensively, while stymieing everything Newkirk attempted on both sides of the ball. Halftime is when the Tigers’ coaching staff changed their strategy. The winless Tigers went from trying to match the Eagles on the ground and through the air to, at times, downright thuggery. This strategy, though unscrupulous and highly suspect, worked (to an extent). While amassing 75 yards in 2nd half penalties (and a few that went uncalled), sending one Eagle to the ER, and getting another Eagle ejected for retaliation, the Tigers did eat away at the Eagles lead, narrowing the score to 29-28 with 8 minutes to play. With the player’s, coach’s, and spectator’s emotions rife with anger, Weston Smith quickly changed those to elation when he summarily put the game and the victory to bed with his game-clinching, victory-sealing, 74 Yard Kickoff Return for a Touchdown midway through the final Quarter, giving the Eagles the 36-28 Class 2A District 1 Win.
Weston’s kickoff returns, added to his 84 Receiving Yards, and 2 Touchdowns were enough to earn the Sophomore the MaxPreps Special Teams Player of the Game for his 165 All-Purpose Yards.
The Eagles’ Air Attack was on full display in the victory. If not for a couple of mishandled snaps, 1 or 2 drops, and 1 or 2 overthrows, it could have been an “all-time” night. Nonetheless, QB Sebastian Gonzalez threw for a new personal-best 321 Yards and 4 Touchdowns. His 321 Yards were the 3rd most in a Single Game in Hennessey High School History, behind Don Caffey’s 398 in 1985, and Cole Joyce’s 500 in 2019. Sebas’ 4 TD Passes tied three other Eagle QBs behind the Single Game Record of 5 thrown by Tony Mendoza in 2013 and Joyce in 2019.
Junior Receiver Seth Simunek was the primary benefactor of the Eagle Air-Attack. “Hollywood” had 5 Receptions for 146 Yards and 2 Touchdowns, leading the way. Those yards were enough to move Seth into 7th place in an HHS Single Game, past his elementary school principal, Barry Crosswhite’s 142 Yards versus Chisholm in 1985, but still 10 shy of his father Rob’s 156 Receiving Yards v. Davis in the 1990 Playoffs. Langston Smith, 39 Yards and 1 TD, with Kevin Trillo, Keigen Crites, and the aforementioned Weston Smith proved too much for the Tiger Defensive Backs, leading to the Eagle W.
Keigen Crites provided the Eagles’ ground game with 93 Yards on 12 Carries with a long of 25 Yards. Crites was also the team’s leading tackler, with 10 Tackles, 2 Assists, and 1 QB Sack defensively, earning the Senior the MaxPreps Defensive Player of the Game.
With Homecoming 2021, class reunions, and a special halftime acknowledgement of the 2011 State Football Championship Seniors, the Eagle faithful turn their attention to Blackwell. Hennessey (3-2, 1-1) will continue District play next Friday night, October 8th, with a 7 pm Kickoff at the Blackwell Maroons, now 0-5 Overall, 0-2 in District play, coming off their 39-0 shutout loss to Perry. -EagleVoice