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Austin LBJ edges Elgin in season opener

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    Xavier Nuells (#90), Daveon I'som (#1) and Max Galvez (#5) set to sandwich the Jag's quarterback.
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    Willie Simmons (#9), Max Galvez (#5) and Daveon I'som (#1) lead the Wildcats out onto the field.

Pre-season polls are a lot of fun and something to go back and forth about, especially when the subject is Texas high school football.

I read Elgin was supposed to finish fifth in District 18, and Austin LBJ was predicted to win their district. Another article that really caught my eye was how the professional sports writers were raving about LBJ defensive back and offensive receiver Latrell McCutchin. The Alabama Crimson Tide commit is on pace to break major records on both sides of the ball. As it happens in sports at times, McCutchin was injured during warm ups and never even stepped on the field. But the other Jag that was voted one of the best in central Texas—junior wide receiver Andrew Mukuba—showed he deserved all the praise sent his way.

It was a great night for football at Nelson Field in Austin Friday night. I saw the Purple Diamonds drill team in the west stands and went to take a picture of them before I realized they were the LBJ drill team! The Jaguars of LBJ are also purple and white. Unless you really paid attention, you didn’t know if the guy standing beside you was wearing a Wildcat purple shirt or a Jaguar purple shirt.

One thing that caught my eye right away is that the Wildcats seemed to have a good mix of big guys, stocky guys and fast-looking guys. LBJ seemed more built for speed than anything else.

Things went good for Elgin right away. The 'Cats kicked off to the Jags to start the game. On LBJ’s first play, Elgin senior defensive back Trevor Magnuson picked off a pass from the Jag quarterback, setting up Elgin on LBJ’s 30-yard line. Elgin drove the ball down the field but was stopped on the half yard line on fourth down.

The Wildcat defense continued to do a great job, holding the Jags on their first three possessions, but the Jags returned the favor, intercepting an Elgin pass on the Wildcats third possession.

With about six minutes in the first quarter, the LBJ quarterback threw a 10-yard pass out to the right flat, and Mukuba took the pass, jigged and jagged, and ran the ball in for a 75-yard LBJ touchdown. The 'Cats blocked the extra point attempt, leaving the score 6-0.

After failing to make a

Photo by Ron Ramirez first down, Elgin again punted. LBJ drove the ball to the Elgin 25-yard line, before—déjà vu—the quarterback again threw a short pass to the right flat, and Makuba again took the pass and went 25 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The Jags were successful on their two-point conversion, making the score 14-0 with three minutes left in the 1rst quarter.

After two big plays against them, it would have been easy to quit, but Elgin kept their heads up and stayed in the game. With nine minutes left in the second quarter, the 'Cats finished up a drive with a 10-yard touchdown run by #10, Peter Mc-Farlin. Jaden Strong made the extra point kick, leaving the score 14-7 LBJ.

On LBJ’s ensuing drive, Elgin’s #65, John Rebolloso, stripped the LBJ carrier and also recovered the fumble, setting up Elgin with good field position. Unable to capitalize, LBJ got the ball back and drove down the field, scoring on a 20-yard scamper by the Jags quaterback. Halftime ended with LBJ leading 21-7.

On the Jags' first possession of the second half, 'Cats defensive back Trevor Magnuson reached up and stole the ball from the receiver for his second interception of the night. Quaterback Daniel Gonzales made some strong runs and McFarlin finished up the drive, scoring on a seven-yard run. Point after attempt was missed, making the score 21-13. The third quarter ended with LBJ intercepting a pass by McFarlin, with the score the same 21-13.

The final period saw that familiar Jag, Makuba, scoring his third touchdown of the night on a 45-yard pass; score, 28-13. But Elgin was determined, and drove the ball themselves, with our McFarlin scoring his third touchdown of the night on a five-yard scoring run. Strong followed with a point after, score 28-20, with some three minutes left in the game.

It took the Jags only a couple of plays to score again on a 55 yard run by their running back, making the score 35-20 with two minutes left. Not to be outdone, Elgin quarterback Gonzales threw a couple of nice passes, finishing the drive off with a 25-yard touchdown pass to #8, Trey I’som, who made a really nice catch over an LBJ defender in the corner of the end zone. Strong was good on his extra point kick. Elgin’s on-side kick attempt went out of bounds, allowing the Jags to run out the final 45 seconds, and LBJ went home with a hard-fought 35-27 victory.

Coach Jens Anderson said he was not pleased with the outcome, but he was pleased with how hard his team fought, and the intensity they played with. He felt they played a really good team and his players did not back down one bit from them. He knows the execution on both sides of the ball need to improve, but he sees his team coming together quickly.

I was impressed with the defensive line play all night. Most of the yardage made was outside the line. Xavier Nuells (#90), Jordan Hood (#76) and John Rebolloso (#65) played a tough, solid game against some real good athletes. Defensive back Trevor Magnuson made numerous tackles and had two interceptions. I was also impressed with the team overall. They want to play and to hit someone. They are confident. I do see where this team could be competitive in every game, not just with talent, but with willpower and determination as well.

The 'Cats ended up with over 300 yards of total offense. Quarterback Gonzales had 80 yards passing with one touchdown pass and 105 yards rushing. Running back McFarlin had 120 yards rushing with three touchdowns. Trey I’som had three catches for 74 yards and one touchdown caught.

So, LBJ’s Makuba proved he was just as good as advertised, scoring two touchdowns. Elgin’s Mc-Farlin proved he is someone who needs to be reckoned with as well, rushing for over 100 yards and scoring three touchdowns for the 'Cats.

The Wildcats (0-1) travel to Bryan Rudder (0-1) on Friday, September 6, for a 7:30 kick off. Rudder was beaten by Bastrop 28-27 in their first game. The 'Cats play Pflugerville in their home opener September 13 at 7:30 p.m.