By Robert Przybylo
Bad and lame pun aside, I feel pretty good. With those state area picks, I’m the dork that likes to add little side comments about each game. With Heritage Hall and Henryetta, I said it would be the 2A game of the year.
After attending the game, I think I’m right although I admit to not being able to see Bethany-Alva from the week before.
I don’t know how our other “prep geniuses” work, but by the second quarter of any game I’m at, I start framing my story.
To put it mildly, my mind was working overtime in Henryetta on Saturday.
Early on, it appeared the Chargers could do no wrong. The offense wasn’t clicking by any means but the Heritage defense was controlling the game with a 10-0 advantage.
And then a fluke play happened. The Knights faced a 4th and 17 with 40 seconds to go in the first half. Bobby Bear, with no other choice, floats a ball to about the 10 yard line. Heritage’s Turner Petersen knocks the ball down but right into the hands of Henryetta’s Brett DeWitt for a 35-yard touchdown to cut the margin to 10-7 at half.
I’m starting to think how a fluke play turned the tide in the undefeated battle. The second half begins with the Knights just pounding it down Heritage’s throat. Nine straight runs brought Henryetta to the 1 yard line. Bear attempts a sneak, fumbles, and Heritage recovers.
Then the unthinkable happens. Charger QB Garrett Valdez, who came in with 26 TDs and 5 interceptions, throws pick No. 6 to Evan Crane. The senior did not have an interception the entire season.
Knight RB Colby Blondell carries Chargers on his back as he scores from 22 yards out to give Henryetta a 14-10 lead, making it only the second time HH trailed the entire season.
On Heritage’s next play, Valdez runs the option, picks up some yards, pitches it and it’s picked off by Rusty Gray.
Then something else unique happened. A team built on a high-powered offense needed its defense to get the job done, and Heritage did.
After exchanging punts, the Chargers offense finally started to click because Valdez and Petersen were finally able to develop a rhythm.
On the 69-yard, 12-play drive, the two connected twice for 34 yards with both receptions resulting in first downs. The key was a 27-yard connection that happened on the far sideline. With no view of the play, have to agree with the ref’s call that he was in.
Another first down put the Chargers at the 4 yard line. Three plays later, it was fourth and 2. Now my mind shifts to a HUGE defensive stand leads to upset.
But on fourth down, Valdez hooks up with Tucker Cason from 2 yards out for the 16-14 advantage.
On the next two Henryetta drives, the Knights try to get tricky. First was a halfback pass from Coy Blake that was picked off. After spending their timeouts on defense, Henryetta got the ball back with two minutes left.
Pulling a play from Boise State, Henryetta goes for the hook-and-ladder (or is it lateral) that backfires and leads to a 15-yard loss.
Game, set, match to the Chargers.
And the story is evident. Despite three quarters of maybe one of his worst performances ever, Valdez stepped up when needed most. And after talking with coaches and players, Garrett wouldn’t let them lose.
As I remarked in the box, too bad it was just a quarterfinal. A memorable and historic season came to a close for Kenny Speer’s boys while Andy Bogert’s squad lives to fight another day.
Heritage Hall plays Bethany on Friday night at Choctaw.