Hurricanes sing the blues, Wildcats come out on top 64-49

Varsity football moves to 5-0, rises to 20th in 6A Top 25

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Jill Chumley

Dylan Heyward (pictured) picked up a crucial pick-six in the first half of Tomball Memorial’s 15 point victory over Klein Cain

Adeen Rao, Staff Writer

The Wildcats entered Friday Night’s bout with the Klein Cain Hurricanes on a four game winning streak to open the season, but to extend that streak, the Wildcats had to neutralize the dangerous threat of a potent Hurricane offense.

The Wildcats defense did just that.

Forcing three turnovers, their most in a game this season, the Wildcat defense did just enough to allow the offense to separate themselves from Klein Cain, especially in the second half. The unit forced eight non-scoring Hurricane drives, a season-high discounting the season-opener against Langham Creek. The defense picked up turnovers at perfect times to keep the Klein Cain offense from finding the end zone, with junior Kale Berter grabbing an interception on the goal line, junior Dylan Heyward getting a crucial pick six in the second quarter, and forcing the #1 junior running back in the country to fumble in the third quarter, which set up the Wildcat offense for an easy two play scoring drive.

“The turnovers were a huge confidence booster,” senior defensive back Tre Jordan said. “We preach turnovers every week in practice and to come out with three was big.”

Klein Cain was 2/10 on third and fourth down conversions, yet still picked up 597 yards in the contest, meaning the vast majority of the Hurricane’s production came on first and second down. The low conversion rate can also be attributed to the Hurricane’s average yard-to-gain on third down being a hefty 8.4 yards, which is a tough average to surmount for a running centered team like the Hurricanes.

A lot of buzz before the game was centered around Klein Cain’s highly recruited junior tailback Jaydon Blue, and most of the high expectations were met. Blue picked up 221 yards at 8.2 yards per carry and three touchdowns.

While most eyes were focused on Blue, junior wideout Matthew Golden was outstanding for the Hurricanes, picking up seven catches for 164 yards. Golden showcased a high-class ability to high point the football and made some outstanding one-on-one grabs all night. Klein Cain junior quarterback Carson Roper was impressive when it came to running the zone read with Jaydon Blue and Aaron Jordan. Roper picked up 82 yards at 5.9 yards per carry and a touchdown on the ground Friday night.

“He definitely was the best receiver we have faced all year,” Jordan said. “Full credit to Joshua Ruiz for playing a great game and covering him.”

The Wildcat offense had their least passing yards in a game this season with 80, but that wasn’t a shortcoming considering the unit racked up 547 yards on the ground. The team scored 60+ points for the fourth straight game, a school record. As per usual with the absence of senior quarterback Colton Marwill, senior wideout-turned-quarterback Joseph Manjack led the way. Manjack, alongside 80 yards and a touchdown in the air, achieved 294 yards at 19.6 yards per carry and four touchdowns.

Last week against Tomball, the Wildcats struggled on third down and on Friday Night those numbers didn’t have enormous improvement, as the Wildcats were 6/12 on third down and punted four times. They also again found themselves averaging way over five yards in the yard-to-gain on third down category, needing about 7.2 yards per third down. The Wildcats also took their most penalties of the season, with five penalties for 35 yards.

There were, however, many positives for the team. The Wildcats obtained almost a first down every time they snapped the ball, picking up 9.7 yards per play. The duo of Joseph Manjack and junior running back Richard Rodriguez, with senior fullback Reed Baumann as the lead blocker, came up especially large when it came to wearing down the Klein Cain defense in the fourth quarter. A long lasting 11 play, 80 yard scoring drive saw all three Klein Cain timeouts burned and the majority of the clock whittled down, leaving Klein Cain no opportunity to get back into the game down 15 with just under three minutes remaining.

Coach Sam Parker showed great confidence in his lead tailback Rodriguez, after he fumbled the ball at a crucial time in the fourth quarter. While the ball was luckily recovered, Coach Parker put the ball right back in Rodriguez’s hands, a gamble that paid off as Rodriguez picked up a 26 yard gain on the run.

“It’s very nice to know Coach Parker has full faith in me,” Rodriguez said. “I had to avenge my fumble and he gave me the chance to do so.”

Senior kicker Lorelai Stramrood had her first perfect night of the season, drilling all six of her extra point attempts through the uprights. Only one of her kickoffs netted a large return, while most of them forced the Klein Cain returners to call fair catches.

ESPN recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton was among those in attendance to view the high-powered matchup. He had some particularly nice words to say about signal-caller Joseph Manjack.

“He’s one of the most undervalued players in his class,” said Hamilton “Manjack is terrific at QB.”

With the win, the Wildcats moved to #20 in the Texas 6A rankings, their highest rank of the season. Additionally, the Wildcats are 5-0, the best start to a season in school history.

UP NEXT: An away conference game against Klein (2-1, 0-1 District)