It took one season for the West Texas Warbirds to show they were a force to be reckoned with in indoor football.
Although the team was originally set to play its inaugural season last year, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed those plans.
Hard work and a quick rise paid off for head coach Tate Smith and the Warbirds as they claimed a Lone Star Series crown with a 79-60 win over the Amarillo Venom Saturday at the Ector County Coliseum.
“Now looking back, I think things align the right way for a reason,” Smith said. “When you do things the right way, good things happen to you and I firmly believe that.
“Everything we did in this organization was for the right reasons.”
The Warbirds jumped out to a 20-6 first quarter lead by taking advantage of some misfires from the Amarillo offense.
That lead would grow slightly to 39-20 at halftime as the Venom tried to close the deficit.
Even when Amarillo seemed to get back in the game, West Texas had a response.
One of those answers came early in the third quarter when Warbirds receiver Darien Townsend scored a touchdown on a 51-yard kickoff return to extend the West Texas lead to 45-20.
Amarillo did not go away in the quarter thanks to an onside kick recovery and capping a short offensive drive off with a 22-yard touchdown connection between quarterback David Perkins and receiver Wesley Gray. Perkins finished with 334 yards on 25 of 37 passing, nine touchdowns and an interception.
Despite the push, the Warbirds were able to put the game away with three scores in the final quarter.
Quarterback Daniel Smith connected with Townsend and receiver Aaron Dilworth for touchdowns and running back Tim Whitfield rumbled forward for an 11-yard score to put the game out of reach and seal the victory and the championship.
Smith was 25 of 32 for 293 yards and seven touchdowns in the victory.
“They came in swinging and they didn’t make it easy on us,” Daniel Smith said. “I’m just so happy for this group of guys, this coaching staff and this city. To end this season off as a champion, there’s no better feeling.”
It was also the third time this season that West Texas had defeated Amarillo.
“We knew they’d be tough, it’s hard to beat anybody one time, much less twice and the third time in a big ball game,” assistant head coach Dean Garza said. “We kept telling our kids, ‘Don’t think of the previous two games, you throw all that out the window when it’s a championship.’”
Garza and defensive coordinator Jermaine Blakely were among the hires that Tate Smith made to his coaching staff after he was called to lead the West Texas franchise back in April.
During every Warbirds game, Blakely could be seen on the field pumping energy into his team and the spectators in the arena seats.
The defensive coordinator said the game of football has given him everything and he was grateful to see the franchise achieve early success.
“It was not easy but we pulled it out,” Blakely said. “We have the best offense in the league, we face them every day so I knew if we could stop our own offense, we could stop anybody.”
“I coach with passion, I love this game.”
>>Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya
West Texas Warbirds 79, Amarillo Venom 60
Amarillo……………….. 6.. 14 27 13 — 60
West Texas…………. 20.. 19 20 20 — 79
West Texas: Dennis Trotter 49 fumble return (Justin Lehr kick).
West Texas: Jordan Gandy 27 pass from Daniel Smith (Justin Lehr kick).
Amarillo: Devonta Archer 8 pass from David Perkins (kick failed).
West Texas: Darien Townsend 7 pass from Daniel Smith (kick failed).
Amarillo: Devonta Archer 36 pass from David Perkins (Addison McCauley kick).
West Texas: Carlos Thompson, Jr. 12 pass from Daniel Smith (kick failed).
Amarillo: Will Martin 37 pass from David Perkins (Addison McCauley kick).
West Texas: Tim Whitfield 23 run (Justin Lehr kick).
West Texas: Tim Whitfield 10 pass from Daniel Smith (kick failed).
West Texas: Darien Townsend 51 kick return (kick failed).
Amarillo: Devonta Archer 11 pass from David Perkins (Addison McCauley kick).
West Texas: Tim Whitfield 5 run (Justin Lehr kick).
Amarillo: Devonta Archer 30 pass from David Perkins (kick failed).
West Texas: Aaron Dilworth 40 pass from Daniel Smith (Justin Lehr kick).
Amarillo: Devonta Archer 9 pass from David Perkins (Addison McCauley kick).
Amarillo: Wesley Gray 22 pass from David Perkins (Addison McCauley kick).
West Texas: Darien Townsend 12 pass from Daniel Smith (Justin Lehr kick).
Amarillo: Terell Smith 32 pass from David Perkins (Addison McCauley kick).
West Texas: Aaron Dilworth 3 pass from Daniel Smith (Justin Lehr kick).
Amarillo: Devonta Archer 3 pass from David Perkins (two-point failed).
West Texas: Tim Whitfield 11 run (two-point failed).
Amarillo West Texas
First Downs…………………… 11……………….. 10
Total Yards…………………. 374……………… 387
Rushes-Yards………….. 15-40…………… 12-94
Passing……………………… 334……………… 293
Comp-Att-Int…………. 25-37-1……….. 25-32-0
Fumbles-Lost………………. 3-3………………. 0-0
Penalties-Yards…………. 9-63…………… 11-67
Amarillo: Undra Hendrix 7-31, Sean Chatman 6-7, David Perkins 2-2.
West Texas: Tim Whitfield 11-81, Carlos Thompson, Jr. 1-13.
Amarillo: David Perkins 25-37-1—334.
West Texas: Daniel Smith 25-32-0—293.
Amarillo: Devonta Archer 7-109, Will Martin 5-84, Terell Smith 8-79, Wesley Gray 4-62.
West Texas: Jordan Gandy 5-88, Aaron Dilworth 4-75, Carlos Thompson, Jr. 7-62, Tim Whitfield 7-49, Darien Townsend 2-19.
West Texas: Carlos Thompson 1-0.