With powder flying in the air, painted faces and cheers chanted, that meant football is in full effect and finally back in front of a live crowd at Austin’s R.E. McKee Stadium – a scene that has been absent for over 21 months.
It was “White Out Night” at the home of the Panthers in Central El Paso and the crowd was electric even before kickoff as the Panthers of Austin High squared off against the Horizon Scorpions.
Once the game kicked off, the Panthers got off to a fast a familiar start. With the Panthers losing William Rodriguez III and Isiah Witterstauter to graduation, Coach Eric Pichardo brought back two running backs to spearhead his run attack – Junior, Jaden Wilson and Senior, Ivan Gonzalez.
Wilson started a dominant first half with a 24-yard TD run in the middle of the first quarter to put the Panthers on the board first, 7-0. He had his second rushing TD on the first play of the 2nd Quarter to put the Panthers up, 14-0.
On Horizon’s next drive, Wilson had two monstrous tackles on defense for the Panthers to blank the Scorpions in the first half. The first half ended perfectly for the Panthers with a “Hook and Ladder” play with Austin’s Irving Cortinas passing to Luis Fernandez who lateraled it to Jaden Wilson who walked into the end zone to take the Panthers into halftime with a 20-0 lead.
The game had no scores in the 3rd quarter, but both teams exchanged a pair of scores in the final quarter. The scoring started with Austin’s Ivan Gonzalez with a 1-yard TD run to start the 4th quarter to put the Panthers up, 26-0.
Horizon had their first score with 9:48 left in the game with a 1-yard QB keeper by Jacob Quijas to make it 26-7, Austin.
Austin answered back on the very next drive to make it 32-7 with a 9-yard TD run by Sergio Rodriguez with 7:23 left.
The final score of the game came with under 4 minutes left with a 22-yard TD pass from Horizon’s Quijas to Adrian Parra. The game ended with the Panthers defeating the Scorpions emphatically, 32-14.
The player of the game was Austin’s Jaden Wilson who was involved in 3 of the Panthers’ scores – all in the first half.
The Horizon Scorpions will host the Bowie Bears next Friday. Next up for the Panthers are the El Dorado Aztecs next Thursday night.
When Austin Head Coach Eric Pichardo was asked what he’d like to tell everyone about Austin Panther Football, he said “These guys are working very hard for a district championship and that’s our goal.”
Paul David Oliver Reporting