Chargers cruise to victory against Lobos

The Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers notched their first shutout victory of the season, 42-0, on Thursday over the Brownsville Lopez Lobos at Sams Memorial Stadium.

The Chargers improved to 4-2 and 4-1 in a loaded District 16-5A Division I with the win, staying in the playoff and title hunt. Lopez falls to 0-6, 0-5 despite a good effort from the resilient squad.

“We had some mistakes, self-imposed, in the first half, and we cleaned that up in the second half and were able to make the most of our opportunities. I was pleased with our four quarters of football tonight,” Chargers coach Kelley Lee said.

Brownsville Veterans took its opening drive 56 yards for a quick lead. Freshman running back Storm Montoya and junior running back Jay Valdez breezed through the Lopez defense to move the chains on first down and get the Chargers in rhythm. Senior RB/linebacker Jorge Alvarado scored on a 12-yard carry, zig-zagging through defenders and out of tackles.

“All our running backs ran really hard, had a lot of yards after contact. And they’re doing a great job of blocking for each other as well,” Lee said.

After forcing a punt, the Chargers stalled in the red zone, slowed down by penalties. Senior kicker Jose Medrano extended the lead with a 29-yard field goal. On the ensuing Lopez drive, sophomore defensive back Gilbert Trillo read the quarterback and snagged an interception.

The Chargers used almost half of the second quarter as they conducted an 80-yard scoring drive. Penalties hurt Brownsville Veterans on the possession, negating two rushing touchdowns from Valdez. After being helped by a pass interference call against the Lobos, junior quarterback Reece Sampayo completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Zachary Dennis.

Brownsville Veterans recovered its own onside kick after the score, but Lopez responded by forcing and recovering a fumble, courtesy of senior defensive lineman Andrew Hernandez. The Lobos’ offense struggled during the first half and didn’t build on the turnover, quickly going three-and-out.

“We worked really hard on (BVM’s) scheme, it’s a very complicated scheme that they run,” Lopez coach Armando Gutierrez said. “(Our defense) had a great effort. They were making stops when they needed to deep in their own territory. Offensively, it took us a while to get going, and that’s what killed us in the end.”

The Chargers closed the second quarter by scoring 11 points during a span of 11 seconds. Lopez’s defense, led by Hernandez, Manuel De La Cruz and Jesse Garcia, came up big to keep BVM out of the end zone. Medrano nailed a 33-yard field goal, then on the first play of Lopez’s possession, sophomore linebacker Jaime Martinez took an interception 40 yards to the house. BVM converted a 2-point attempt to make it 28-0 at half.

The third quarter went by quickly as both teams pounded the ball in slow, methodical drives. The Lobos’ running back committee of junior Jesus Castillo, senior Omar Cervantes, sophomore Pablo Lopez and senior Diego Sixtos had success on the ground, but the Chargers’ defense kept Lopez from reaching the red zone.

“When we come out of the slot … we have a few guys we can go to (as running backs), and it helps us set up the passing game. All those kids run hard,” Gutierrez said.

Brownsville Veterans started the fourth quarter with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Montoya to cap an efficient 59-yard drive. Sampayo hit junior running back Michael McHale in stride for a 45-yard gain to get things started.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Chargers added their final score of the night on Montoya’s second rushing touchdown, this one from 7 yards out. Montoya was operating the offense at quarterback, his natural position, on the drive.

“I played quarterback my whole life, I’m new to fullback actually, but I’m a good runner. I just got to find the hole, push through, and like (Lee) says, ‘Hit it hard and get a yard,’” Montoya said. “People tell me that I’m slippery and stuff during the game, and it makes me laugh. Being shifty (helps my game). … We have a lot of momentum. We can win district, we just have to fix our mistakes.”

Lopez used backup senior quarterbacks Matthew Compean and Juan Jaramillo under center, and each had one big passing play. Compean found Sixtos, who made a great grab on a low ball, for a 37-yard gain. Jaramillo hit senior receiver Johnny Munoz for 22 yards. Munoz finished with two catches for 31 yards.

“What I started seeing was we started getting blocks up front, we picked up their blitz and it gave us a little more time to make some throws. It’s just a matter of being consistent,” Gutierrez said.

Defensively, De La Cruz and senior defensive tackle Juan Guerrero spearheaded a hard-hitting effort from Lopez.

At full strength for the first time since preseason, the Chargers’ defense played lights out. Martinez, senior linebacker William Wassen and junior linebacker Gary Bardales had productive days to lead BVM’s defense.

“We had two of our starting defensive linemen back (Bryan Chavez and Manny Lerma) that we haven’t had since the scrimmage. Those guys are forces inside, which will help our defense moving forward,” Lee said.