The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate football team played its final game of the season in a 24-14 loss to the La Vernia Bears Friday, Nov. 4 at home.
RFHS finished the season 3-7 and 1-4 in district play.
In a must-win situation for RFHS, the Pirates kept the game to within three points halfway through the fourth quarter. La Vernia eventually iced an RFHS comeback after finding the end zone with 5:30 left in the game. RFHS was unable to close the 10-point deficit following a turnover on downs.
In District 15-4A DI standings, the Pirates finished in 6th place. La Vernia won the district with a 5-0 district record.
Unfortunately, if RFHS defeated La Vernia, the Pirates would not have made the postseason because Pleasanton defeated Beeville later that same evening. The Pirates needed to win, along with a Pleasanton and Floresville loss, to qualify.
Despite the final outcome, RFHS Head Coach Jay Seibert said he was proud of the way the team fought until the final quarter against the #1 team in the district. The Pirates were still very much locked-in, even in the final minutes trailing by 10.
“You know I thought if we had played that hard all year, we wouldn’t be 3-6. They played their tails off,” said Seibert. “They played as hard as they possibly could. We didn’t get it done, but as a coach, I tell them all the time you give it all you’ve got for four quarters and wherever it falls, it falls. Tonight they did that and I was proud of them.”
After a scoreless first quarter, La Vernia took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter after a field goal and 65-yard touchdown (TD) run at the seven-minute mark.
The Pirates struggled to convert in the red zone up to that point, but eventually hit a big play on a 48-yard pass TD from Ace Seibert to Colin Delgado. The score happened with 3:30 left in the half. The Pirate defense then forced a turnover on downs in the final minute to end the half trailing 10-7.
La Vernia scored on its opening possession of the second half and put RFHS at another 10-point deficit.
The Pirates got their big break with less than two minutes in the third quarter when Devan Phillips picked off a tipped ball for a big return to give RFHS a short field inside La Vernia’s 35. A. Seibert then scored on a keeper up the middle to make it 17-14 with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.
La Vernia took its 24-14 lead with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter on a short rushing TD that followed an RFHS punt.
Despite a couple big plays by the RFHS defense, the Pirates were held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
A. Seibert was 2-15 for 85 yards passing, one TD, and two interceptions. He was also 11-69 rushing with one TD.
Aydan Smith was 13-50 rushing.
Phillips was 7-42 rushing.
Delgado was 1-48 receiving with one TD.
Trevor Garcia led RFHS in tackles with 13.
This is the first time in a decade RFHS has not qualified for the postseason. The last time the Pirates did not qualify was in 2012. It’s also the first time in J. Seibert’s tenure as head coach he’s missed the postseason.
J. Seibert was upset the tradition he established since his arrival had been broken and told his underclassmen after the game it wouldn’t happen again.
“Not making it breaks the streak in tradition, and it’s a tradition we’re going to get back, and we’re going to get back next year in a hurry,” said J. Seibert. “I pulled our underclassmen up at the end as our seniors were walking (senior walk) and I said, ‘Guys, next year after game 10, we’re not going to be standing here not celebrating by not going to the playoffs.’
“There’s going to be some work that’s going to be done. It’s going to be some hard work. We’ve got to get back to the basics: get nasty, dirty, tougher, stronger, and get faster.”
The Pirates will lose 18 seniors to graduation following the 2022 season.
J. Seibert said he’d built a strong bond with a number of them going back to last season when many played a big part in the team going 10-2.
“I’m very close to them. They’re at my house all the time. I spend all week with Devan, (Kaden) Kennedy, and Logan (McClelland), and then I spend the weekend with them. Sometimes I’ve got to kick them out (of the house),” said J. Seibert. “You have Ayden Rangel, (David) Hoyt, Devan, Kennedy, Schmidt, and Logan who’ve fought hard and been a big part of our success the last two years.
“My favorite is Devan. He leaves it all out on the field every time he plays. He played 10 games this year, I don’t know how many snaps he didn’t play, but I know he played at least 95 percent. Offense and defense. He plays them as hard as he can and he did everything he possibly could to help us win.”