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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Balmorhea defeats Richland Springs to clinch first state title - Odessa American: Oavarsity

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Balmorhea defeats Richland Springs to clinch first state title

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Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2021 10:11 pm

SAN ANGELO The Balmorhea football team had to wait an extra 20 days for another chance to play for its first state title. Despite the auspicious start, it proved to be worth the wait.

The Bears ran off 28 straight points in the second quarter and used a swarming defense to knock off Richland Springs 74-38 in the Class 1A Division II state championship game Tuesday at San Angelo Stadium to win their first state championship in school history.

The victory gave Balmorhea head coach Vance Jones his fourth state title in his coaching career with his third different school. It was also the first time that Richland Springs head coach Jerry Burkhart lost in a state title game.

“It means everything because when I came here to Balmorhea, I told them that we were going to win a state title,” Balmorhea head coach Vance Jones said. “I don’t think any of them believed me at first but the more we worked and the more we got better at it, they started believing and now they believe.”

It was the defense setting the tone early on both sides. The Balmorhea (12-1 overall) defense forced the Coyotes to punt but the Bears were quickly turned away after a Richland Springs interception.

The Bears quickly responded two plays later after Armando Ortega recovered a Coyote fumble to take the ball away.

That set the stage for running back Tomas Contreras, who broke through for the first of four touchdown runs with a 51-yard burst to give the Bears an early 8-0 lead. The sophomore finished with 305 yards on 21 carries.

The Coyotes (12-1) showed that they were capable of answering and did so with a 45-yard touchdown pass by Landon Burkhart to Zane Capps to tie the game with 5:14 to go in the second quarter.

That set the stage for Balmorhea’s breakthrough second quarter starting with Andrew Laramore’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Lane Carrasco on the first play of the quarter.

Burkhart matched the score with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Nick Nilson on the ensuing drive.

That would be the last time the Coyotes would score in the half as the defense swarmed all over the Coyotes attack led by seniors Lauro Mata and Sean Orozco. 

Orozco finished with five total tackles, four tackles for loss, four sacks to earn defensive MVP honors.

“Our offense feeds off our defense,” Orozco said. “I just turned it up a notch. Everybody fed off of our energy and now we can say that we’re state champs.”

Contreras and senior Gary Alex Abraham took over for the Balmorhea offense. Contreras added two more touchdown runs of 61 and 36 yards while Abraham caught touchdown passes of 69 and 17 yards to turn a tie game into a 44-16 halftime lead. Abraham finished with 145 yards receiving and four touchdowns and was named the offensive MVP for the game.

“It’s just so surreal,” Abraham said. “We’ve been dreaming of this since our freshman year. Ever since we took the loss against Strawn, we just worked hard to get back here and we got it done.”

Richland Springs was able to make a brief charge in the second half. Burkhart accounted for all three scores in the second half for the Coyotes with two passing touchdowns and another rushing touchdown.

The Bears made sure that there would be no comeback by the nine-time state champions as Abraham caught two more touchdowns in the third quarter while Aguirre and Contreras sealed the game with touchdown runs of 28 and 55 yards, respectively, to seal the victory.

“Here it is nine years later,” Jones said. “I really enjoy the kids we have here. They’re such good and outstanding young men.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

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