Sandies eliminated by Heritage for third straight season

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Amarillo High’s Pius Vokes fights for yardage during Saturday’s Class 5A Division I area round playoff game against Colleyville Heritage in Wichita Falls. Amarillo High lost 31-10. [Richard Cleaver/ Press Pass Sports]

WICHITA FALLS – The third time wasn’t a charm for the Amarillo High Sandies on Saturday afternoon.

For the third straight year in the postseason, the Sandies took on Colleyville Heritage in the Class 5A Division I area round, this time at Memorial Stadium. And for the third straight year, Heritage ended their season.

Heritage established the theme offensively with a series of mostly short passes leading to two touchdown drives in the first quarter, giving the Panthers an early lead and forcing Amarillo High to play catch-up, which the Sandies could never quite accomplish, as they lost 31-10.

The Sandies (9-3) knew what they were up against with Heritage (11-1), who will take on another Amarillo ISD opponent, Tascosa, next Saturday at 3 p.m. back at Memorial Stadium. Amarillo High has already been there, done that, but unfortunately with the same old result.

“We knew that in order to win this game we felt like it had to be our best performance,” AHS coach Chad Dunnam said. “We were forced into making some mistakes and (the Panthers) didn’t make many in the kicking game, offensively or defensively. They didn’t beat themselves and we had to play great to beat them. We came up short and didn’t play our best.”

The Panthers made a statement by taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field for a score, finishing the drive on a 13-yard scoring pass from Weston Smith to Hogan Wasson for a 7-0 lead. That was the first of four scoring passes for Smith and the first of two to Wasson.

After blocking a 36-yard field goal attempt by Amarillo High’s Luke Laminack on the ensuing possession, Heritage marched down the field again for another score, with Smith hitting Riley Wormley for a 33-yar score and a 14-0 lead. Smith finished the game by completing 22-of-35 for 248 yards.

“We really wanted to tempo them early and we were lucky enough to get the lead,” said Heritage coach Kirk Martin, a Valley graduate. “We really wanted to run the football in the second half and try to burn the clock and not give them too many opportunities.”

It wasn’t the most prolific of offensive performances for the Sandies. With one big exception, they didn’t get much going before or after falling behind.

“Any time somebody else scores on the first drive of the game it’s a little disheartening,” said AHS senior quarterback Brock Wade, who in his final game completed 9-of-19 passes for 91 yards. “I thought we moved the ball well then we got the field goal blocked. Definitely getting in a hole early hurts.”

The Sandies finally got some offense going in the second quarter, but otherwise had a hard time moving the ball.

Their first score was an 81-yard scoring run by sophomore Pius Vokes, who took a handoff up the middle and outraced Heritage’s defense to the end zone to make it 14-7. Laminack then hit a 42-yarder into the wind to cut it to 14-10 with 4:35 left in the half.

But the winds literally blew against the Sandies in the end of the half. Heritage took advantage of a short field, as Smith hit Wasson on a 34-yard scoring pass to make it 21-10 with 1:36 left in the half.

The Panthers then partially blocked a Laminack punt to set up a 44-yard field goal by Bryan Hansen with six seconds left in the half to make it 24-10.

“I think (the wind) effected both teams,” Dunnam said. “The way the thing went with them getting some points right there before the half and getting a punt blocked really hurt us.”

The Sandies got the ball to start the second half but had little success going into the wind. They held steady defensively in the third quarter, holding the Panthers on downs in the red zone and surviving a missed field goal.

But with 3:05 left in the third quarter, Heritage effectively ended the competitive phase of the game on a 16-yard scoring pass from Smith to Mason Murdock to make it 31-10. For the third straight year after playing Heritage, the Sandies had to settle for having their traditional solid winning season.

“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t go our way but I’m proud of this football team,” Dunnam said. “Nine wins this season and it was a football team that got better as the year went on so I’m proud of our team.”

The Sandies won’t be getting ready to play at Dick Bivins Stadium next week, which would have happened since they would have played Tascosa the next round with a win. Instead, it’s Heritage and Tascosa who will be returning to a familiar location next weekend to face off with each other.

It will be a contrast in styles offensively, but Martin feels his team is prepared.

“We have two triple option teams in our district with Midlothian and Burleson Centennial (who Tascosa beat 31-24 on Friday),” Martin said. “Our kids have seen it and I’ve been knowing they were going to be here for a whole year knowing how good they are.”

Colleyville Heritage 31, Amarillo High 14

Heritage 14 10 7 0 — 31

Amarillo High 0 10 0 0 – 10

First Quarter

CH – Hogan Wasson 13 pass from Weston Smith (Bryan Hansen kick), 7:42

CH – Riley Wormley 33 pass from Smith (Hansen kick), 1:50

Second Quarter

AHS – Pius Vokes 81 run (Luke Laminack kick), 10:28

AHS – Laminack FG 42, 4:35

CH – Wasson 34 pass from Smith (Hansen kick), 1:36

CH – Hansen FG 44, 0:06

Third Quarter

CH – Mason Murdock 16 pass from Smith (Hansen kick), 3:05

Heritage Amarillo High

First Downs 18 12

Rushing 46 117

Passing 276 91

Total yards 322 208

C-A-I 23-37-0 9-21-1

Punts.-Avg. 4-47.3 6-26.7

Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-2

Penalties-yards 6-65 3-33

Individual Statistics

Rushing — Heritage: Isaac Shabay 17-46, Luke Ullrich 4-2, Smith 4-(-4), Leon Covington 1-5, Braden Blueitt 1-5, Murdock 2-12, Wormley 3-(-1), Team 1-(-19). Amarillo High: Levi Slaydon 8-23, Tyreese Molden 3-11, Jameson Garcia 2-0, Ethan Cowan 9-20, J.Q. Ervin 6-8, Vokes 6-86, Brock Wade 6-(-31).

Passing— Heritage: Smith 22-35-0-248, Ullrich 1-2-0-28. Amarillo High: Wade 9-19-1-91, Mason Graham 0-2-0-0.

Receiving — Heritage: Shabay 5-56, Wasson 8-74, Mason Murdock 7-80, Leon Covington 1-11, Wormley 2-55. Amarillo High: Garcia 6-54, Braize Mitchell 1-9, Vokes 1-11, Cowan 1-17.

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