Mark Bell knew his secondary was going to be tested. Cameron Yoe’s quarterback, Zack Andress, was 30 for 50 for 361 yards and five touchdowns through the first two games of the season. Andress also had plenty of receivers to get the ball to as four of them already had more than 60 yards on the year.
Friday night, Bell’s defense stepped up big time. Andress went 14 for 34 for 180 yards and two touchdowns as China Spring topped the Yoemen, 21-14.
“I thought our secondary did an outstanding job,” Bell said. “They have a great receiving corps, a great quarterback. They throw the ball really well. (Iverson) Westbrook is as good as it gets. There’s not a better receiver in the state of Texas. He’ll be a Division I prospect. Classy kid. I like the way he acted. I thought they’re well coached and just a super ball club.”
Not many predicted such a low scoring, defensive battle from these two ball clubs. Not even Cameron Yoe coach Tommy Brashear.
“I know a lot of people were expecting more points,” Brashear said. “I didn’t expect a shootout but I did expect more points than that if I’m being honest. I was really proud of our defense. Our defense played their hearts out tonight. They’ve been playing hard all year. Offensively we’re putting them in some bad field position situations. That’s something we have to work on. The defense has been playing well all year.”
Before Friday’s contest, Brashear knew his team needed to contain Tyrick James. He told his players that James can line up all over the field. Because of that, the Yoemen needed to know where he was at all times.
Even if Cameron Yoe knew where James was, it was a tougher task to contain him. James trucked over defenders in his path while shedding tacklers left and right. The tight end finished with 77 rushing yards and 47 receiving yards.
Central Texas high school football is a haven for playmakers.
Steven Russo continued to be the downfield target for Cayden Johnson as the receiver finished with 110 yards off only six receptions. Johnson finished 14 for 23 for 186 yards.
“Tyrick was spectacular ” Bell said. “He stepped in at running back and did a super job. He took the football team and put them on his shoulders.”
Meanwhile, Steven Rua saw a chance to get on the board midway through the first half. Iverson Westbrook, however, thought differently as the Cameron Yoe defensive back flew through the line of scrimmage to block the field goal attempt.
Both defenses kept the game scoreless until the last five minutes of the first half. Tyrick James took a bulk of the carry, powering through defenders and shedding tackles left and right, to set the Cougars up at the Yoemen 8-yard line.
As Cameron Yoe brought the pressure on 3rd-and-3, Cayden Johnson ran to his left, then to his right before he saw Brayden Mathis wide open in the back of the end zone. Mathis made the catch to put China Spring up by seven.
Cameron Yoe answered two drives later. James’ punt on 4th-and-9 at the China Spring 18-yard line went straight up in the air and ended up setting the Yoemen up at the Cougar 14-yard line. Cameron Yoe went for it on fourth down as Westbrook hauled in an eight-yard pass from Zack Andress to tie things up at seven.
The China Spring offense got things rolling at the beginning of the third quarter as Steven Russo ran under a 58-yard touchdown pass by Johnson to go up 13-7. The Cougars scored on their following drive a Johnson kept it for a 14-yard score.
From that point on, both defenses stepped up. The Yoemen forced the Cougars to settle for a field goal from the red zone, but China Spring missed it. The Cougars, meanwhile, recovered a fumble and caught an interception while forcing a couple punts.
“It’s just a hard fought battle,” Bell said. “It’s just two heavyweights getting after it. Lot of good football out there. There were some mistakes, but it’s early in the year. It’s good to find a way to win, especially against a team like that.”
After struggling offensively, Cameron Yoe found the end zone for the second time Friday night with 30 seconds left on the clock. Andress passed to Iverson Westbrook who juked around and sped away from the Cougar defenders for the 49-yard score. And Brashear saw that kind of fight from his guys all game long.
“I love it,” Brashear said. “They fight all the time. That’s what I love about being in Cameron. Kids never gave up. We had a chance with 30 seconds to go and an onside kick. The kick didn’t go our way, but we felt like we had a chance. Our kids never gave up.”