By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
WAXAHACHIE — Life Waxahachie quarterback Colby Grmela took the final snap from the victory formation on Friday night at Mustang Stadium. The knee he took after closed out an impressive 20-14 homecoming win against visiting Alvarado.
Life Waxahachie improved to 2-4 on the season with the victory and, even more importantly, evened its record at 1-1 in District 5-4A.
“It’s always exciting to win a homecoming game,” Life Waxahachie head football coach Micah Stanley said. “Our first homecoming game got canceled, obviously, so it was a little longer wait than we wanted. But it is always fun to win and is especially fun to win whenever everyone’s family and friends come back to watch.”
The Mustangs were forced to forgo their first attempt at a homecoming game when Caddo Mills canceled week four due to an undisclosed number of positive COVID-19 tests. It was the first football game in Ellis County to be affected by the virus.
“I felt like it was a minor setback,” said Darius Fuller, a senior defensive end for the Mustangs. “Once we got into the rules of it and learned to accept it, I feel like the rules are in place to keep us safe and they have been.”
Post-cancelation, the Mustangs had previously fallen to state powers Liberty-Eylau (49-21) and Waco La Vega (62-0) before Friday’s district win. Their first win of the season came Sept. 11 against Brownsboro, 21-14.
“We started the season off kind of rough, but we have all bought into the program,” Life Waxahachie senior Kendal Barnes said. “We come back every week to get better, and tonight showed the progress that we have made. We are going to continue to keep going and keep working hard in practice to get better every day.”
The cornerback added, “Despite anything God brings to you, just keep fighting.”
Life Waxahachie out-gained Alvarado 333 total yards to 271. The Mustangs’ total included 270 yards through the air, while the Indians leaned heavily on their rushing with 215 yards gained on the ground.
The Mustang pass rush sacked the Alvarado quarterbacks three times, while Grmela remained relatively clean in the pocket all night.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Life Waxahachie quarterback Colby Grmela (17-26, 223, TD, 2 INT) broke the scoreless start when he hit Dreylon DeQuire down the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown. DeQuire blew by an Alvarado cornerback and ran across the goal line untouched with 8:39 to play in the first quarter.
The Mustang defense quickly forced a three-and-out and set the offense up near midfield.
The drive began with promise, highlighted by a huge Grmela-to-De’tyrian Mccoy completion on third-and-16 to the Alvarado 20-yard line. Unfortunately, a little miscommunication on the ensuing passing route resulted in Alvarado cornerback Ian Owen picking off Grmela’s pass and setting the Indians up at their own 25-yard line with four minutes and change to play in the first quarter.
The Mustang defense kept the Indians in check following the hiccup.
Life Waxahachie eventually found the end zone again when Mccoy capped a lengthy drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. His scamper put the Mustangs up, 14-0, with 2:31 to play in the first half.
The Alvarado offense responded — quickly.
After moving inside the Mustangs’ 10-yard line, Indian quarterback West Conner tossed the pigskin toward the back of the end zone. Senior safety Shar’juan Daniels leaped, extended his arm and got the tips of his finger on the football just before it found the hands of Josiah Ponce. The Alvarado touchdown came with 28 seconds to play in the first half.
Life Waxahachie carried that 14-7 lead into the halftime locker room.
The Mustangs out-gained the Indians 205 total yards to 148 in the first half, with 176 of that yardage coming through the air. Alvarado had rushed for 90 yards.
William Labermeier had 87 yards on 20 carries.
Life Waxahachie’s Grmela completed 15-of-his-17 passes for 176 yards and one TD in the first half. Mccoy added five carries for 31 yards and the second-quarter touchdown.
The Alvarado defense forced two first-half turnovers.
And, for those who missed the homecoming festivities at halftime, Robert Brooks was crowned the 2020 Life Waxahachie King and Nilah Jordan was selected as the class’ 2020 Queen.
Neither offense found much success in the third quarter.
Though, Life Waxahachie did eventually added a pair of field goals from 28 and 22 yards to build a 20-7 lead as the game turned toward the final half of the fourth quarter.
Alvarado made its last-ditch effort to make Friday night a ballgame with a little over four minutes to play.
The Indians drove into Life Waxahachie territory and used an off-balanced double-reverse pass to move to the Mustangs’ 8-yard line.
Alvarado scored four plays later on a 2-yard run by William Labermeier, who finished with 32 carries for 167 yards. The touchdown pulled the Indians within a single score, 20-14, with 2:36 remaining in the ball game.
Grmela eventually kneeled out the Mustangs’ 20-14 victory.
The Mustangs return to action Friday at home against (6-2, 2-0) Midlothian Heritage.
The Jaguars will be fresh off of a victory against 5A Mesquite Poteet. The game against the Pirates was a late scheduling change after district foe Brownwood was forced to shut down football activities for two weeks and forfeit Friday’s tilt.
“We got better today and that is what we have to continue to do,” Stanley said. “We have to get better every day. We executed well in facets and we will go back on Saturday and look at what we didn’t do well so that we can be ready to play a really good [Midlothian] Heritage team on Friday night.”
All photos by KBEC Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith