Up the middle

Devan Phillips takes a run up the middle behind lead blockers Ryan Wells and Logan McClelland.

The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate football team struggled to get going offensively against the San Antonio Southside Cardinals, leading to a second half stalemate in a 14-7 loss Friday, Oct. 2 at home.

RFHS’ overall record is now 2-2 as they begin district play. They will play one more non-district game next week in Houston at Kinkaid High School Friday, Oct. 16.

After a quick two touchdowns by Southside in the first quarter, the RFHS defense adjusted and held the Cardinals the rest of the game. RFHS, however, struggled to move the ball on offense for a second straight week against another tough 5A-D1 football team.

“We played a good 5A-D1 football team. They were big, athletic, and they were really fast,” said RFHS Head Football Coach Jay Seibert. “Offensively, we were shocked by their team speed, as well as defensively we were shocked by their speed.

“Our defense adjusted, but our offense couldn’t keep it going. We’d get something going and then we’ll have a negative play. Anytime we did anything slow developing, we ended up with a 4-5 yard loss and we can’t have those negative plays like that with the way we’re set up.”

As the team opens the district season this week at Sinton, RFHS hopes to make a quick turnaround in resolving its offensive woes.

“We’ve started the season 1-4 before and still been district champs,” said J. Seibert. “We’ve had rough goes in the beginning of the year, adjusted and have won.”

In the first quarter, after a three-and-out by RFHS in the opening possession, Southside scored on a 30-yard touchdown (TD) pass in their first possession to make it 7-0.

In the ensuing RFHS possession, Ace Seibert was intercepted on a throw down the middle and gave the Cardinals a short field to work with. However, the RFHS defense came up with a big stop on fourth down by George Marable and Payton McAlister.

After an RFHS three-and-out, Southside added another score in its next series after a 50-yard screen pass put the Cardinals in the redzone. Southside finished the drive on a short rushing TD to take a 14-0 lead.

To start the second quarter, a couple of big runs by Luke Muirhead pushed RFHS into the redzone. The drive was capped off by a short rush TD by Ryan Wells to make it 14-7.

Both teams traded possessions away before the half without a score.

After a forced punt by the RFHS defense, A. Seibert threw another interception in the following series on fourth and long.

The RFHS defense forced another punt and gave the ball back to the offense with a minute left. However, the offense was stalled again by the Cardinal defense and ended the half.

In the aforementioned series, RFHS lost a key part of its offense when running back Muirhead was injured on a tackle near the visitor sideline. He sustained a severe leg injury and was escorted from Pirate Stadium by Emergency Medical Services.

In the second half, neither team came close to scoring as each opposing defense kept the rest of the game scoreless.

After trading possessions once to start the third quarter, Southside took a drive into Pirate territory and went for it on fourth down. As the Cardinals quarterback scrambled, Bronnson Hutson intercepted his pass downfield with 3:45 remaining.

RFHS went on its lone promising drive of the half after as John Chupe found some room to run on a couple handoffs and a 23 yard reception.

In the fourth quarter, RFHS resumed its drive in the redzone but could not find the endzone after a couple big stops by the Cardinal defense pushed RFHS backward. Chupe was stopped on fourth and 31 to turn the ball over on downs.

Both teams traded possessions for the rest of the quarter, but to no avail offensively. Southside ended the game with possession and on a knee.

As RFHS exits its gauntlet of talented bigger non-district opponents, J, Seibert said the team has been battle tested.

“We played three really good football teams in a row and that wasn’t the plan when the season started,” he said. “In hindsight, I think we’re going to look back and realize playing these teams and seeing that kind of speed, the game is going to slow down for us.

“We’ve got a whole lot of first-time varsity players and they’ve gone out to the wolves these last three weeks and played really good football teams.”

Offensively, Seibert finished 1-for-7 for 23 yards and two interceptions.

Before his exit, Muirhead led Pirate backs with 48 yards on six carries. Wells finished with 38 yards and a TD.

Chupe had the lone reception for 23 yards.

Defensively, McAlister and Sean Lovett led RFHS in tackles with nine each. Marable followed with six tackles.

Josue Fuentes led RFHS in tackles for loss with two.

Hutson accounted for RFHS’ lone takeaway with an interception.

RFHS will play at Sinton at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9. General admission tickets will not be sold to the public on game day due to COVID-19 restrictions set by Sinton.

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