CLYDE — In his fourth year at the helm of the Big Spring football program, Cannon McWilliams has preached to his team how they need to set the standard for the future.
Despite a 31-7 loss to Wichita Falls High in a Region I-4A Division I area-round game on Friday night at Bulldog Stadium, McWilliams was able to say that this year’s team helped raise the standard.
This year marked the first time since 2018 that the Steers had advanced past the bi-district round of the playoffs.
“We lost a big senior class last year and I think a lot of people thought that we were going to take a step backwards,” McWilliams said. “This team worked hard and put in a lot of work and were able to bring a gold ball back to Big Spring. This senior class means a ton (to the program).”
Despite falling behind 7-0 on a 61-yard touchdown pass from John Ledesma to Cameron Gould, the Steers actually dominated the first quarter, holding the Coyotes to just 13 yards on nine other plays.
But it was a series of penalties and a blocked punt that doomed Big Spring the rest of the way.
Ean Beasley had the blocked punt in the first quarter to set Wichita Falls up near midfield, but the Steers defense came up with a three-and-out.
After the teams traded punts, the Coyotes struck early in the second quarter after converting a fourth-and-24 from the Big Spring 34 with a 27-yard catch down the left sideline by Ke’Ondrae Fleeks. The play led to a 19-yard Patricio Maldonado field goal after the Steers defense stopped a pair of runs by Gould from the 2-yard-line.
“They made some big plays with the good throw and catch on the sideline when I thought we were in decent coverage,” McWilliams said. “They made the plays when they had to and unfortunately we didn’t.”
The Coyotes were able to push the lead to 17-0 just before halftime when a facemask penalty on the Steers on third down extended the possession, before Eric Powell got an 18-yard touchdown run.
“Every time we made a big play, it seemed like we got (a penalty) or something weird just happened,” McWilliams said. “Players win games but coaches lose them. We just made mistakes on both sides (of the football).”
Big Spring then muffed the ensuing kickoff but the Steers defense stood tall and forced a turnover on downs inside the final minute.
During halftime, snow flurries began to fall — eventually getting heavier as the teams took the field for the second half. Surprisingly, that led to the best drive of the night for the Steers.
— Brandon McAuliffe (@sportsfreaknut) November 19, 2022
After Eli Cobos had an interception and a 33-yard return to the Big Spring 49, Gavin Padron methodically picked apart the Coyotes defense, with a couple of runs mixed in, before finding Kavien Ford with an eight-yard touchdown pass to cut the Old High lead to 17-7.
“It was kind of crazy with the stuff falling from the sky,” McWilliams said. ‘We just couldn’t get things going tonight and penalties killed us.”
The momentum lasted as long as the flurries as Big Spring had three punts and a turnover on downs the rest of the way while Wichita Falls was able to tack on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
REGION I-4A DIV. I AREA ROUND
WICHITA FALLS 31, BIG SPRING 7
WF — Cameron Gould 61 pass from John Ledesma (Patricio Maldonado kick)
WF — Maldonado 19 field goal
WF — Eric Powell 18 run (Maldonado kick)
BS — Kavien Ford 8 pass from Gavin Padron (Eli Cobos kick)
WF — Ke’Ondrae Fleeks 19 pass from Ledesma (Maldonado kick)
WF — Gould 16 run (Maldonado kick)
RUSHING — Wichita Falls, Cameron Gould 21-122, Eric Powell 15-82, Jordan Mitchell 5-18, John Ledesma 4-6. Big Spring, Kavien Ford 13-31, Leroy Johnson 4-19, Team 1-(-3), Gavin Padron 2-(-13).
PASSING — Wichita Falls, Ledesma 10-21-2—140, Gould 0-1-0—0. Big Spring, Padron 22-38-0—160.
RECEIVING — Wichita Falls, Gould 1-61, Ke’Ondrae Fleeks 3-55, Caden Justice 2-16, Jae’Den Williams 1-4, Zage Gravitt 1-4, Ayden Ramirez 1-1, Ean Beasley 1-(-1). Big Spring, Zeyire Franklin 8-76, Eli Cobos 4-48, Keyshaun Woodruff 4-25, Ford 3-7, Phillip Martinez 1-4, Ricky Escovedo 1-3, Derick Walleck 1-(-3).
RECORDS — Wichita Falls 8-4; Big Spring 6-6.