By Jeff Gayle
Homecoming Night for the Grapeland Sandies started out in a fun fashion with the crowning of the King and Queen. Jaques Faulk, Mr. Do-Everything for the Sandies, was named King and Whitney Musick was named Queen.
This along with the Peanut Festival allowed for some distractions for the home team against the Kerens Bobcats but they were able to put all that aside and come out with their first district win 48-34 over the Cats.
The Sandies, as has been their luck all year, won the opening toss and elected to receive. Right off the bat -- as was to happen all night -- Kerens tried an onside kick out of a quick rush formation. The kick failed and the Sandies started at their own 41-yard line with Rick Frauenberger as the starting QB. After two short runs on third-and-long the young QB tossed a long pass to Jaques Faulk who ran it in for the 70-yard TD. The snap was fumbled on the PAT attempt but an alert Riley Chipman scooped up the ball and raced to the left for the 2-point conversion making the score 8-0 Sandies with 11:17 in the first quarter.
After the kick the Bobcats drove downfield but the Sandie defense held on 4th down and took over at the Bobcat 42. Using a run by Jermorris Davis, a quick 13-yard pass to Faulk and three tough runs by Kaleb Leonard the Sandies drove to the 2 yard line where Frauenberger threw a quick slant pass to Rodney Davis for the score. The PAT by Dustin Ackley was no good and the score was 14-0 Sandies.
After an onside kick by Chipman, who made the recovery, the Sandies had runs by J. Davis and a short pass to Tink McQuirter but the ball went over on downs at the Bobcat 37. On first down Kerens RB Bubba Faulk sped in for the 63-yard TD and after the PAT the score tightened to 14-7. After a Sandie punt the Bobcats took it right in for another TD and after a failed PAT the score stood 14-13 Sandies with 11 minutes in the 2nd quarter.
After a pooch kick the Sandies started at their own 33 and used the running of Leonard and a 16-yard pass to Jason Walker on a 4th down play to move to the Bobcat 28. Faulk came in at QB with a new twist to run the Sandie offense and moved to the 15 where Frauenberger came back in and tossed a 15-yard pass to Walker for his 3rd TD pass. The PAT by Faulk was no good and the score stood 20-13 with :59 in the half.
After the kick a great defensive stop led by Blake Howard and a punishing hit by Dustin Ackley stopped the Bobcats on 4th down.
Once again Frauenberger drove the Sandies downfield with a 41-yard pass to R. Davis and a 6-yard pass to Chipman. A screen pass to R. Davis resulted in the 13 yard TD and after the Faulk PAT the score stood 27-13 at the half.
The Sandie Band excited the homecoming crowd with a rousing performance at the half. Band Beau was Ashton Henry and Band Sweetheart was Arielle Lane.
Starting the third quarter the Bobcats came out fired up and rapidly scored three touchdowns in a span of 9 minutes to take the lead 34-27 on two runs by B. Faulk and an interception of Frauenberger that was run back by Sales of the Bobcats.
In the past this is where the young Sandie team seemed to cave in but these guys showed new resilience. After the kick and urged on by the homecoming crowd, the team took the ball at their 44-yard line and started driving. Using bruising running by Kaleb Leonard with 5 carries for 40 yards to the 10 yard line, Frauenberger once again passed to J. Walker for the TD and after the PAT by Faulk the score was knotted up at 34. The Bobcats started a drive of their own but sophomore end Jesse West stepped in for a pivotal interception at his own 49-yard line with 11:56 to go in the game. Once again Frauenberger used Jermorris Davis and Kaleb Leonard and the new-found running game along with a pass to Chipman to reach the Bobcat 26-yard line. Frauenberger then stepped up with another pretty slant pass to Rodney Davis for his third TD of the game. The PAT was good by Faulk and the score moved to 41-34 Sandies.
After the short kick the Bobcats started at their own 49 and drove to the 18-yard line but a defense led by Leonard, Josh and Dustin Ackley and LB Kamari Smith shut them down and held on 4th down. Riley Chipman came in at QB and seemed to be running out the clock with runs by himself and Kamari Smith but after a jump offsides gave him a free play Chipman smartly dropped back and passed deep to a wide open Jaques Faulk for the 60-yard TD. The PAT by Faulk was good and the score wowed the homecoming crowd at 48 for the Sandies and 34 for the Bobcats.
After the kick a long pass by the Bobcats was intercepted by R. Davis at his own 6 yard line and the Sandies used hard running by J. Davis with 5 runs for 45 yards to end the game. The hometown Grapeland Sandies seemed to use their comeback at the end of the Alto game from the week before as a springboard for the way they played in this homecoming contest against the always good Kerens Bobcats.
Head Coach Wayne Mahaffey was obviously please by his young charges' play on the night. "We had some adversity to start the second half but unlike we would have done in the past, we came back. We weren't as sharp emotionally but these young players get better every week and they responded great", said Mahaffey.
As to the Kerens running game (Bubba Faulk 24 carries for 235 yards) Coach Mahaffey said," Faulk is a good player. He broke some tackles but we stuck with him and he had to work for every yard. The kids just responded great and I'm proud of them."
This week's Players of the Week selections were the toughest of the season. Running backs Kaleb Leonard (19 carries for 100 yards) and Jermorris Davis (13 carries for 80 yards) played great. Jaques Faulk had his usual great game (8 rec. for 90 yards and 1 TD), Jason Walker played great (4 rec. for 103 yards and 2 TD's), and the offensive line really stood out, but Offensive player of the Week had to be once again freshman QB Rick Frauenberger. For the second straight week the freshman passed for over 200 yards (22 of 35 for 256 yards) but what really stood out was his 6 TD's. That's a heck of a stat and made the choice easy.
The defense did great with too many players to mention standing up and standing out for the game, but Defensive Player of the week is Kaleb Leonard with 14 tackles and numerous stops on important downs. Overall player of the Week is Rodney Davis. Davis had 5 catches for 91 yards and 3 TD's and had a late interception that helped seal the win.
This win has put the Sandies in a great position for a playoff spot because of the new format of 4 playoff teams per district. At 1-1 with three games to play all they seem to need is one more win to get in and this writer thinks they can do better for sure. They are an exciting young team on the rise so come on out and take a look folks.