END OF WATCH

Final Score Chandler 48 – Hennessey 16

The final game of the season is always the toughest to swallow.  The final game of a high school senior’s football career is gut-wrenching.  Hennessey’s six seniors played their final game at Eagle Stadium two weeks ago, and played the final game of their high school careers Friday night at Chandler’s Joe Long Field, losing in the opening round of the 2022 Oklahoma Class 2A State Championship Playoffs to the Chandler Lions 48-16.

On a cold and snowy night in central Oklahoma, Chandler hit the field running, literally, scoring touchdowns on each of their six first-half possessions on the legs of Class 2A’s leading rusher Casmen Hill.  The senior RB, who has averaged over 200 yards per game this season, peeled off 372 yards and 3 touchdowns rushing against everything the Eagles Defense could throw at him.  Behind Hill’s running and Junior QB Alec Jackson’s three first-half touchdown throws, with the Eagles turning the ball over on downs three times, fumbling once, and throwing one pick, the route was on with the Lions holding on to a comfortable 42-0 halftime lead, cruising to a 48-16 opening round win over the Hennessey Eagles.

Though down early, the Eagles never gave up the fight.  Each of the six Eagles seniors led their brothers on the field and in the locker room, not just in this game, but for the past four years. 

Center Regan Sturgill and Guard Antonio Robles led an offensive line that paved the way for a record-breaking 2022 offensive attack.   Sturgill, in his first year as an Eagles starter, led the line with 30 pancake blocks (going into Friday).  As the heart and soul of the O-Line, Big T’s biggest moment of the 2022 season came with his touchdown rumble against the rival Chisholm Longhorns in Week 6.

Senior Tight End Langston Smith pulled down a 45-yard catch-and-run seam-route touchdown in the 4th, adding the 2-point conversion on a “bucking bronco” diversion play immediately thereafter (you will just have to see the pictures/video to know what I’m talking about).  Langston finished his season with 325 Yards and 5 Touchdowns Receiving, 675 Yards with 11 Total TDs in his career.

Sebastian Gonzalez had 21 yards rushing and a 17 yard 1st down pass.  After starting at Quarterback his Sophomore and Junior seasons, Sebas’ moved to Running Back for his Senior year, which allowed him a greater opportunity on Defense as the starting Middle (Mike) Linebacker, finishing the season with the sixth most tackles (56) on the team.  He also got 2 QB Sacks and 1 Fumble Recovery this season.  Gonzalez finished his playing career with 727 Yards, 11 Touchdowns Rushing, with 1 Touchdown Receiving.  At Quarterback, and sometimes via the Halfback Pass, Gonzalez had 2399 Yards with 24 TDs Passing, which place him 6th all-time in both categories for career marks, adding 47 points to his scoring totals as the Place Kicker on point after tries, and 27 yards per punt for his 3 years as the Eagles Kicker/Punter. 

With 6 Total Tackles and a Fumble Recovery Friday night, Free Safety Brandon Valles added to his team-leading 84 Tackles on the Season, totaling 182 in his career.  Brandon finished with 4 QB Sacks, 2 Fumble Recoveries, and an Interception on the season.

With 56 Yards on 4 Catches against the Lions on Friday night, Wide Receiver Seth Simunek moved past his father Rob into 3rd Place all-time in HHS Career Receiving Yards.  Seth finished with 1719 Career Yards, behind only Barry Crosswhite’s 1980 (1984-’86), and Jerry Ashcraft’s 2529 (1983-’85).  Seth’s 1060 Receiving Yards on the Season also place him 3rd in HHS history for a Single Season behind Rob’s 1088 Yards in 1990 and Jose Sanchez’ 1128 in 2014.  His 11 TD Receptions on the Season and 19 TDs in his Career, are both tied for 2nd with Barry Crosswhite, behind the record holder Rob Simunek, 18 in 1990 for Single Season most, and 25 from 1989-’90 for the most in a Hennessey High School Career.  Seth also led the team with 6 Pass Interceptions on the Season defensively.

With the Eagles Seniors reaching their ‘End of Watch,’ the future for this Hennessey program is extremely bright. 

The 2022 leaders in almost every Defensive statistical category are underclassmen, with 3 of the top 4 team leaders in Tackles returning:  Mauricio Valles (Fr.) 74, Jessin Hardin (So.) 73, and Cam Griffin (Jr.) 64.  Each of the top 3 Sack leaders return:  Zack Tillman (Jr.) 8, Griffin 6, and Hardin 6.

Junior Wideout Weston Smith led the Eagles Friday night with 87 Yards and 1 Touchdown, finishing 2022 with 725 Yards, 5 TDs Receiving.  He will bring his 1462 Career Yards and 13 Career Receiving TDs into 2023 looking to chase down the HHS all-time marks.

Kevin Trillo will add to the one-two punch in the receiving corps, building upon his Sophomore year of 324 Yards and 5 TDs.

As for this year’s Freshman of the Year, Quarterback Titan Hix is just getting started.  With Friday night’s 171 Yards and 2 Touchdowns Passing, and 104 Yards Rushing against the Lions, Hix finished his initial high school campaign with the Hennessey Single Season record of 2536 Yards and 26 Touchdowns Passing.  Titan finished his freshman year with 1048 Yards and 18 Rushing TDs from the QB position.  Just getting started.

Though the Eagles faithful are disappointed with the early exit from the playoffs, the 2022 football season was a success. 

Finishing the season with a 7-4 Record Overall, 5-2 and a 3rd Place finish in District 2A-1, the Eagles qualified for the playoffs for (technically) the first time since 2017.  Their four losses came to teams that all qualified for the postseason, all ranked in the Top-15 in the State, three of which have now advanced to the second round of the playoffs. 

We saw the record for Single Game Passing TDs of 5 tied twice by Titan Hix versus Blackwell and Mount Saint Mary.  We saw the aforementioned Single Season Passing Yards and Touchdowns record fall.  We saw the Hennessey Record for Single Game Rushing and All-Purpose TDs set with Titan’s 7 against Alva.  And we witnessed 3 of the Top 8 Single Game Individual Receiving Yards with Seth Simunek’s 179 v. Mt. St. Mary, Weston Smith’s 178 v. Blackwell, and Seth’s 165 v. Millwood. 

Yes, the future is bright.  And the preparation for the 2023 Hennessey Eagles Football Season begins now. Eagle Voice ~ Photos by Kenda Copeland