The start of the Port Isabel Tarpons (9-3) game against Sinton Pirates (9-3) at Javelina Stadium in Kingsville was a sign of what was about to come. It seemed like PI pushed all the right buttons and benefitted from bad mistakes by Sinton after having to endure a rainstorm with lightning that delayed the start of the game by 45 minutes.
Kenny “The Jet” Herrera took the opening kick for a 70 yards TD run when two Sinton knocked each down opening a lane for the kickoff return. From there it was all uphill for the Pirates and they could never catch the Tarpons.
The offensive line of PI opened up gaping holes and they ran for 370 yards on the ground. They were led by Javier Vela with 112 yards and one TD. Juan Aguilera and J.J. Gonzalez also ran for two TD’s each.
Using a similar formula as the Tarpons did against Rio Hondo, once they had the Pirates biting on the run, they pulled out two big pass plays for TDS. One was thrown by Vela on a halfback option on a beautiful pass to Andrew Holland for 66 yards. The other was a 43 yard pass from Isiah Martinez to Michael Curry to push the PI lead to 13 points at Half.
The Seawall Defense also played a big game, forcing turnovers and controlling dangerous Sinton QB Tyler Handson. He was able to throw a 75 yard pass play and 36 yard toss to Derek Shedd in the first half. Handson was handcuffed in the second half and wasn’t effective. He ran 110 yards, but the front seven came up with big stops, including a few sacks, and two interceptions.
The two concerns are penalties and special teams play. When you get into a close game in the playoffs, this may be the difference between winning and losing.
The Tarpons cut their penalties in half compared to last week’s game against Lyford and were only penalized for 84 yards, but many were for false starts. It just makes it harder on the offense to have to make up for this lost yardage.
PI’s Marcelo Sanchez missed the first PAT during a driving rain. After that, the Tarpons went for three consecutive two pointers and only made one. In the second half, Sanchez made four extra points, but the kickoff returns were short and gave Sinton good field position throughout the game. One punt was partially blocked, but a Sinton player touched and the Tarpons recovered a fumble.
One thing about this game is Port Isabel came in as underdog playing a vaunted Coastal Bend team, who many thought would beat the Tarpons. They showed no fear and knew getting out to an early lead would be important. Once PI has the lead and the running game is going, they can work the clock and wear down the other team. That’s happened in this game. Sinton got within a TD twice, but PI came back with scoring drives and eventually pulled away. They were determined to play their game and wouldn’t back down when challenged.
Next up for Port Isabel is the winner of Wharton and Navarro. They are playing at 6 pm Saturday night in Seguin. For the first time since 2004, Port Isabel has advanced pass the Area Round. When these players were young and in Pee Wee football, many talked this would be the next great team in Tarpons Football history. They are on the brink of achieving that, but need to keep winning.