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Wildcats win Battle of Bastrop County 37-17

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    Wesley Harkins (#68) and Jordan Hood (#76) open a hole for their quarterback, Peter McFarlin (#10). Photos by Ron Ramirez
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    The Wildcat Band performs at halftime for Senior Night.

Why would this game be any more important than other contests earlier in the season?

First of all, it was Senior Night, honoring the soon-to-be-graduating band members, Purple Diamonds, cheer squad and football players and trainers.

It was between the two largest towns in the county, thus the “Battle of Bastrop County?’

And lastly, it was the last game of the season, and both teams wanted to finish with the good taste of victory in their mouth.

This was an Elgin squad who had only won one game all year, yet this group of young men had been either winning or barely trailing with two minutes left in every contest but one. There are no moral victories in the winloss column, but the ‘Cats played hard, never gave up or gave in, and stuck together as a team.

They were taking on a Bastrop Bears team riding in with a lot of momentum, sporting a two-game winning streak, both over teams that had already beaten the Wildcats earlier.

The big three Wildcat offensive playmakers once again led the way. Senior quarterback Peter McFarlin had an outstanding rushing game, going over 200 yards and scoring two rushing touchdowns. He finished his last year with over 1,100 yards rushing, 700 passing yards and 17 scores. Senior running back Lyndon Rangel added 73 tough rushing yards and one rushing touchdown versus the Bears. Rangel finished his last year with over 600 total yards and seven scores. Senior wide receiver Trey I’som added two rushing scores against Bastrop to bring his yearly total to six touchdowns and over 500 yards receiving/rushing.

Junior Trevor Kirgan had a good year as a starting receiver. Keaton Grady did well as a kick returner, receiver and punter for the `Cats. Young freshman Paden Maass was moved up to the varsity in game five and proceeded to surprise everyone but himself and his parents, making 15 of 16 point after tries and his only field goal attempt (31 yards). The big three would not have been successful if their offensive line hadn’t bulldozed the other team’s big bodies consistently. Blocking back Matthew Herndon and offensive linemen John Rebolloso, Wesley Harkins, Juan Solis and Jordan Hood were the big boys who paved the way.

The Wildcat defense was led by linebackers Willie Simmons, Braylon Owens, Jaylen Koch, Aaron Vega and Mario Navarro. Defensive lineman Jordan Hood fought double teams all year, but still managed to be a leading tackler while lineman Omani Williams has a bright future ahead. Seniors Markale Thompson and Wesley Harkins made numerous stops all year. Defensive backs Devin Manor, Khrys Washington, Lyndon Rangel and Devin Meurin, the interception against Bastrop, patrolled a very active secondary against some really good passing teams.

“It was truly a team win and we executed well in all three phases of the game,” said Head Coach Jens Anderson.

He added he was so proud of his players, especially the seniors. He knows the team faced a lot of adversity this season, but hopes the lessons they learned will carry them to success in college and beyond.

Anderson also wanted to thank his staff: offensive coordinator Jarad Richards, defensive coordinator Ramon Fuentes, special teams coordinator Jacob Rowe and assistant coaches Andrey Vanduren, Lance Hamilton, Mark Garcia, James Foehner, J. Stout, Chris Mueller, Hollis Stringer, Maxx Hill, Pete Heintze, Michael Morel, Dustin Maedgen, Travis Early and Aaron Griffin.

“(The coaches) continued to prepare for success, week in and week out,” Anderson said.

Which leads me back to the “Battle of Bastrop County.” Elgin (2-6) had won three of the last four contests against Bastrop, and the Bears (3-6) were not happy with that at all. The problem is that they ran into a Wildcat team who knew they were better, even if this season’s wonlost tally didn’t show it.

Elgin scored midway through the first quarter on a McFarlin rush and Maass kick, and the ‘Cats never trailed again. I’som scored on handoff around end, Maass kicked, and the score was Elgin 14-3 at end of the first quarter.

The defensive line played an outstanding game, with Hood and Williams racking up nice tackles for loss or little gain. The linebackers were also very active with Navarro and Simmons leading the way, and Owens with an interception in the second period. The half ended with Maass successful on a 31-yard field goal, making the score at the half, Elgin 17-3.

Bastrop scores first after half, making the score Elgin 17-10. The teams traded possessions for the rest of the period.

Quarter 4 saw Elgin draw first blood, with a five-yard run to paydirt by Rangel, making the score Elgin 24-10. Bastrop answered right away on a 65-yard pass and run, closing the contest to Elgin 24-17 with 10 minutes left in the game. But this time, the Wildcats left no room for opponent comebacks, with McFarlin scoring again on a nineyard scamper, making the score Elgin 31-17. Elgin’s defense stopped the Bears on a fourth down, and I’som finished the scoring with a seven-yard run around left end, Maass kick, and a final score of Elgin 37-17.

Ohhh, the sweet taste of victory.. The Wildcats have now been Bastrop County champions four of the last five years!

This was my third season covering Wildcat football, and this will be my last game reporting on them, as I have other things to work on now. But know, I have so enjoyed meeting and watching these young athletes in all sports and other teams compete. I can guarantee you that young lady in the Purple Diamonds is just as competitive as the young man making a tackle. That band member works just as hard to excell as does that volleyball player. I never cease to be amazed at how sharp and aware and caring these young people are. When they discuss their future plans with me, I see the sparkle and determination in their eyes. While many lament about young people nowadays, I see only a bright future for our community and our country.

It’s been fun and I will see y’all in the stands next year.