STORY BY RICHARD CROOME
The Brazos Christian football team may have started a new ritual Friday.
A majority of the players bused to Corsicana during the day to watch the Lady Eagles win their TAPPS Division III state semifinal match. They returned in time to shut out St. Joseph 41-0 to claim third place in Division III District 4 in the final game of the regular season.
“It made me a little nervous that we might be emotionally drained, but I talked to my coaches, and my wife is the coach, so I’m a little biased, and they had a good game, too,” Brazos Christian coach Brandon Green said. “I told everyone I don’t know what the best decision is, and we may come out flat, but we are going to err on the side of serving other people, so if that means driving and supporting our girls in a volleyball game, we are going to say, hey, we are going to forget about what is best for us. We are going to do what is best for them, and we’ll see what happens … that and I’ve never seen our group of guys come out with a lack of energy.”
Green didn’t have to wait long to see if he had made the right decision.
Brazos Christian (8-2, 5-2) drove more than 80 yards on each of its first three possessions to take a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Eagles did most of that work on the ground with drives of seven, 13 and four plays in taking command of the game for a certain berth in the TAPPS playoffs.
With the win, Brazos Christian is assured a playoff game at Hallettsville Sacred Heart next Friday.
St. Joseph (7-3, 4-3) is nearly guaranteed a wild-card berth and first-round matchup at Shiner St. Paul.
Brazos Christian churned out 373 yards on 49 carries over the field that was still wet from the two-plus inches of rain earlier this week. The Eagles’ offensive line of Luke Thomas, Kyle Foster, Drew Price, Zach Gillett and Cole Elms proved to be the best unit on the field and played a huge role in Brazos Christian averaging better than 7 yards a carry.
“Our O-line is all healthy, and they get after it pretty good,” Green said. “They played really well tonight, so there were some big holes and they were really moving the line. They are a hard working group, and they have gotten better and better. I feel like they are hitting their stride at a good time.”
Three different backs scored for Brazos Christian with Jeyton McNair finishing off the two first-quarter touchdown drives with runs of 10 and 9 yards. Jesse Honnas broke free for 187 yards on 10 carries. His first six carries went for at least 13 yards each as he racked up 172 yards on eight first-half carries. His longest run of 57 yards and Mitch Holt’s 33-yard reception from John Mather set up the third touchdown, a Joshua Coleman 1-yard run.
“That was definitely a huge difference in the ball game,” St. Joseph coach Kyle Alexander said of Brazos Christian’s offensive line. “They were able to get it inside on us and won the battle up front this week. Another big thing was mistakes on offense. We would get drives going and get in the red zone and have mistakes ,and you can’t do that against a good football team.”
St. Joseph got inside Brazos Christian’s 20-yard line twice in the first half behind the running of Hunter Batten and throwing of Luke McClure, but a bad snap set the Eagles back once and gave the ball back to Brazos Christian another time when Thomas recovered a fumble.
Coleman and Chism also had interceptions to stop St. Joseph scoring chances.
St. Joseph, having to go for it on fourth down when behind, also turned the ball over on its own 46, and two plays later, Honnas dove up the middle then broke outside for a 46-yard TD run.
“We got some good guys running behind [that line] too so I feel like we are a good offensive football team,” Green said. “And I’d like to think we are a good football team.”
There was no argument from St. Joseph on Friday as Brazos Christian added to the first-half lead on Coleman’s second touchdown, a 2-yard run that capped a 70-yard drive to make it 34-0.
Alexander called for an onside to start the second half and the bounce gave St. Joseph an opportunity to come down with the ball, but it was Clay Norton that eventually secured it and set Brazos Christian on its final scoring drive.
Honnas scored his second touchdown, this time going for 23 yards after pulling in a Mather pass.
St. Joseph’s Ben Simpson and Cameron Cooper helped slow the Brazos Christian offense down late and St. Joseph got the ball back once on downs.
McClure, who was 19 of 34 for 185 yards completed four straight passes, all to different receivers to move the S. Joseph to the Brazos Christian 13 in the final minute, but Chism tip-toed just inside the end zone boundary for an interception on the last play of the game.
Sophomore Hunter Batten refused to be tackled by one player all night and ran for 75 yards on 11 carries, while Rueben Hernandez pulled in seven passes for 52 yards.
“Nothing is set in stone but we are about 95 percent sure we are rolling down to Shiner [St. Paul] Friday night,” Alexander said of the team his squad beat early in the season. “A lot can happen in nine weeks and they were a young football team with a bunch of juniors this year, so that type of team is going to get better and better as the season goes along. They rolled through their district.”
Courtesy of the B/CS Eagle