If it’s the Texas High School football playoffs, it’s Vega vs. Wellington time.
And, Saturday it was Wellington over Vega – again.
Behind a relentless effort up front on both sides of the line, No. 3-ranked Wellington used a punishing running game and a strong defensive effort to beat Vega 26-7 Friday in a Class 2A Division II regional semifinal at Happy State Bank Field in Canyon.
This marked the third year in a row Wellington has eliminated Vega from the playoffs.
Wellington moves to 12-1, owns an 11-game winning streak and has outscored its three playoff opponents 132-13 as it moves to the state quarterfinals next week against New Home (12-1).
New Home beat Clarendon Friday afternoon in a 14-8 regional semifinal slugfest preventing a rematch of district rivals Wellington and Clarendon. New Home and Clarendon will meet 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 at Happy State Bank Stadium.
Wellington coach Greg Proffitt saw his Skyrockets build a 20-0 lead with 5:29 to play in the third quarter and allow the Vega offense three offensive snaps inside Wellington’s 20-yard line.
“We are so happy to be playing December football,” Proffitt said. “Our kids are hungry.”
Vega (8-5) arrived Friday at Happy State Bank Field on a roll under coach Jason Porton. The Longhorns owned a seven-game winning streak and had handed out some playoff thrashings to Memphis (33-12 in bidistrict) and Seagraves (48-7 in area).
Vega opened the game with every intention of ending the playoff grip Wellington holds on the Longhorns.
Vega took the games’ opening drive starting from its own 33 and advancing to Wellington’s 23-yard line with a first down. The highlight effort of the Longhorns drive junior running back Jose Silerio’s 17-yard run.
But a dropped Vega pass on a third down and 5 from the Wellington 18-yard that would have secured a first down, and minus two yards on a completed pass on fourth down swarmed under by Wellington’s aggressive defense set the tone for the game.
“That was huge for us to get that stop,” said Wellington senior defensive tackle Rey Ramirez said. “Our strategy was to come in here and punch it down their throat and keep doing it.”
Wellington scored touchdowns on three of its next four offensive possessions after stopping Vega building a 20-0 lead by relying on a ground-and-pound running game moved along by its offensive line.
“Nothing Wellington did surprised us,” said Vega coach Porton. “They bring it. They bring it on every play. To play and beat those guys you have to win the line of scrimmage and they are really good up front. They proved it again. They are a really good football team.”
Wellington drove 80, 47 and 60 yards on the three time-consuming touchdown drives that started with 7:14 to play in the first quarter and lasted until 5:29 remaining in the third quarter.
Of Wellington’s 28 offensive plays run in those three drives, 27 were running plays. Meaning Wellington certainly had talent at the skill positions against Vega in junior quarterback Carson Tarver, and running backs Gumaro Rincon, Nixon Folk and Miguel Rincon, but the backbone was the offensive line.
The roll call for that line are junior tackles Fabian Pena and Tryston O’Rear, senior center Blake Strickland, senior Ramirez and junior Ramon Rodriguez at guards and tight ends Ethan Nevarez and Enrique Jaimes.
Pina, Ramirez and Strickland also wreaked havoc as the interior line of the Wellington defense helping limiting Vega to 114 yards rushing on 27 carries.
Ramirez knew Vega wanted no part of losing out in the playoffs to Wellington three years in a row.
“I expected them to come out and punch us in the mouth and then we punch back, it’s a war,” Ramirez said. “It’s a back-and-forth war. Whoever up front is the best wins. Our defensive line is real dynamic. We condition well. Our linemen move fast, and they are quick. To do that on both sides of the ball you have to be conditioned.”
Wellington coach Proffitt praised his players in the trenches for the Skyrockets success.
“Our linemen really don’t leave the field and we call them The Trench Dogs,” Proffitt said. “We lean on those guys. We tell those guys point blank you are going to be the reason we win or lose every time we take the field. Their names aren’t in the paper. But those backs are. But our backs will be the first to tell you they don’t get it done without those guys.
Wellington finished with 214 yards rushing led by hard running Gumaro Rincon’s 79 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Tarver’s 67 yards (55 of those coming on a quarterback sneak to the Vega 1-yard line), and Folk’s 55 yards rushing that included a 9-yard touchdown to close out Wellington’s scoring with 7:58 to play along with Wellington (he also had Wellington’s one pass reception of 27 yards).
Vega also relied on the run having to pass late to try and produce quick points. The Longhorns were led by quarterback Joaquin Segovia’s 65 yards rushing and the senior provided Vega’s biggest moment in the sun scoring from 24 yards with 11:06 remaining.
“We were able to do a good job of keeping the ball away from their offense and out of the hands of their explosive players and good athletes,” Proffitt said. “Like I said, we are excited to be playing December football.”
Class 2A Division II Regional Semifinal
At Happy State Bank Stadium, Canyon
Wellington 26, Vega 7
Vega 0 0 0 7 – 7
Wellington 8 6 6 6 – 26
W-Gumaro Rincon 1 run (Rincon run), 2:31
W-Carson Tarver 1 run (run failed), 0:42
W-Rincon 4 run (run failed), 5:29
V-Joaquin Sagovia 24 run (Kylan Richardson kick), 11:06
W-Nixon Folk 9 run (run failed), 7:58