MIDLOTHIAN — After the Pirates ran over to celebrate with the La Vega band clad in blue ponchos as the rain continued to fall, as it had all night, Don Hyde gathered his team up in a huddle. After La Vega’s 31-14 win over Argyle, the La Vega head coach told his kids they were about to get a trophy.
“It’s going to be a nice trophy, but it’s not the trophy we want,” Hyde said. “We’re going to take it home, take care of it, put it up on the mantle somewhere, but we aren’t after that trophy. We’re after the main trophy, the one that you get when you win it all. That’s what we’re after.”
The Pirates put themselves one step closer to raising that trophy when they toppled an Argyle team, the one who topped them by two points back in September, by double digits. That, right there, shows the progress and growth of this La Vega team. And it’s that improvement, something that continues each week for these Pirates, that will help them achieve their goal.
“We’re excited. To be honest with you, this is where we wanted to be,” Hyde said. “This is where we expected to be. We knew we were going to be a good football team. We knew we were young, but we knew we were going to be a good football team. The excitement’s there. We’re going to pack it up here and a minute, head back and try to win this thing.”
The cold, rainy night served as the perfect backdrop for La Vega to punch its ticket to next week’s state semifinal contest. While rain is not the first choice for many to play a high school football game in outdoors, it worked for the Pirates, who run the football as well as anyone in the state (4,968 yards), against an Eagles squad who loves to air it out (3,745 passing yards).
La Vega finished with more than 300 rushing yards, a good two-thirds of which came from John Richards who scored all four of the Pirates’ touchdowns. Meanwhile, Argyle quarterback Bo Hogeboom completed only around 10 of his passes.
Richards’ first touchdown of the night came a play after La Vega’s first forced turnover of the night. After being forced to punt on a three and out its first drive, the Eagles’ punt returner fumbled the punt, which set things up for Richards’ 41-yard touchdowns.
Less than 10 seconds later, La Vega got the ball back when the Eagles fumbled the ensuing kick return. The Pirates capitalized off the second Eagle err of the night with a 23-yard field goal.
La Vega added to its lead early in the second quarter as John Richards capped off a nine play drive, each of which were rushes, to put the Pirates up by 17.
It seemed as if Argyle might answer and flip the momentum a bit as the Eagles got a first down on the La Vega 19-yard line after the Pirates were flagged for pass interference. The La Vega defense came up with an interception in the end zone to end Argyles chances.
The Pirates ended the game forcing four turnovers, all of which came in the first half.
“I’m just telling you, in high school football, if you block, tackle and take care of the football, you’ll win,” Hyde said. “That’s what we did tonight.”
In addition to the rainy setting, the La Vega secondary made it especially difficult for Hogeboom to hit his receivers. On one drive in the second quarter, La Vega’s Sol’Dreveon Degrate had back-to-back pass deflections.
Argyle wasn’t able to get on the board until early in the third quarter when Hogeboom completed a seven-yard touchdown pass. At that point, it seemed like Argyle had all the momentum coming out of the locker room as the Pirates were stuffed and forced to punt its first two possessions in the third quarter.
But Richards quickly put an end to that as he sprinted away for a 75-yard touchdown with 5:30 to play in the third quarter. That score proved monumental for La Vega a few minutes later when Brandon White made the catch of the night as he out-jumped his defender in the end zone, and snatched the ball out of the air with one hand for the eight-yard touchdown. That put the Eagles to within 10 of La Vega.
It seemed as if the Pirates would put an end to everything when they marched down to the Argyle five-yard line, but a fumble and a missed field goal kept Argyle’s hopes alive. That’s when the La Vega defense once again strung phenomenal plays together as Hogeboom had three-straight incomplete passes, and the Eagles were forced to punt.
Finally, Richards delivered the dagger with a 20-yard touchdown run with less than nine minutes left in the game.