Friday night at Dick Bivins Stadium, the established guys showed one of the new kids in District 2-5A Division I a thing or two and exactly who’s in control of matters after two weeks.
It didn’t take long for Tascosa to send a message to Abilene High, who like the Rebels two years ago, has made the drop from Class 6A to 5A. Tascosa showed the Eagles that they’re the ones who will have to make the adjustment.
Sparked by four touchdown runs by Tayden Barnes in the first half, Tascosa jumped on Abilene early and never looked back, rolling to a 36-14 victory which moved them to 2-0 in the district.
As a pre-district favorite on paper, the Rebels (5-1) have more than lived up to that on turf. Coupled with last week’s 45-10 rout of crosstown rival Amarillo to open district, they have established themselves as a team, if not the team to beat in 2-5A DI.
“I was a little concerned that maybe we had a little bit of a letdown and weren’t a mature enough team to handle a win like we did last week but we were,” Tascosa coach Ken Plunk said. “That’s something that we can build on moving forward is that we had a big win last week and came out and prepared well this week and played good football against a good football team.”
After Barnes ran for a 74-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage, the tone for the game was set. Barnes ran for all four of Tascosa’s first half touchdowns as the defense also dominated in taking a 29-7 halftime lead.
Fans had barely settled into their seats when Barnes sprinted for his first touchdown, giving the Rebels a 7-0 lead only 42 seconds into the game.
“I knew I was going to get the rock a little bit more, but I didn’t touched on some of those plays because the O-line was working,” Barnes said. “I was looking for the cutback backside, but then I saw that green grass and took it outside and the rest is history. I was just thinking about getting four yards and four turned into 74.”
But Barnes, who also starts at safety, was only getting started.
Barnes finished the first half with a game’s worth of impressive statistics. He ran for 206 of his game-high 215 yards on only 15 carries in the first half, and he also ran for a 65-yard score in the second quarter.
“It’s hard for us to guarantee touches in our offense,” Plunk said. “(Barnes) is certainly going to touch the ball a lot but he’s also playing defense and playing special teams. He kind of does everything and right now he’s doing it very well.”
Tascosa went up 29-7 1:03 before halftime as Barnes scored from a yard out.
Defensively, meanwhile, the Rebels held Abilene to 63 yards and three first downs. Barnes more than compensated for his only mistake of the game, when he lost a fumble midway through the second quarter and Abilene’s Dre Abril returned it 57 yards for a touchdown, giving the Eagles their only points of the half and make it a competitive game at 14-7.
“I kind of felt like I let my team down a little bit so I had to give them two more touchdowns,” Barnes said. “Our whole goal is to get everybody playing time. We want to get a big lead in the first half and let all the other guys get some touches.”
Barnes spearheaded a running game which was strong as usual, rolling up 398 yards. But it’s perhaps been defense which has been Tascosa’s calling card this season.
The Rebels didn’t allow Abilene’s offense to score until Dylan Slack hit Trey Simpson on an 18-yard scoring pass with 13 seconds left in the game, long after the issue was decided. Tascosa allowed only 145 total yards to the Eagles (2-4, 1-1).
“We’re a defensive football team,” Plunk said. “We can move the ball and control the ball but we’re always going to play good defense. It’s just the hallmark of what we do and will continue to do.”