Position changes pay off for East
VIDEO: See the sights and sounds from Friday's game between Victoria East and Victoria West here.
All the tricks are pulled out for rivalry games and Victoria East coach Roland Gonzalez didn't leave anything in the bag.
With a team that averaged only 20 points per game, the Titans had found a way to get the ball into the hands of their best playmakers and beat Victoria West 54-48 at Memorial Stadium on Friday.
"One of the great things about our kids is we've strongly stressed to them the concept of team and being unselfish in our acts to be successful," Gonzalez said. "Tonight was a great demonstration of that."
East opened the game with sophomore wide receiver Jonathan Ortega at quarterback.
Ortega is a shifty runner, but he also gave the West defense fits with his arm.
"They just hit on all cylinders offensively and I think it was a pretty good move by coach Gonzalez," said West coach Leonard McAngus.
The Titans beat the Warriors for a third straight year by getting into the end zone eight times and amassing 561 yards of offense.
In six previous contest the Titans averaged less 252 yards of offense per game.
Ortega was responsible for the first four East touchdowns and helped put West in a 21-point hole it couldn't overcome.
Ortega finished the night completing 14 of 21 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for 167 yards on 26 carries and three scores.
"Ortega's probably one of the best athletes in the district and whenever he has the ball, he's scary," McAngus said.
The sophomore broke Erving Yates' single-game school passing yardage record of 271 set in a playoff loss to Austin Lake Travis.
"Jonathan, he is just a special individual. He exudes confidence," Gonzalez said. "He did an outstanding job tonight.
Ortega becomes the second East quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in a game. Nic Wallace threw four against Corpus Christi King last year.
Deondric Lofton, who recovered a fumble for a touchdown in last year's game, assisted by rushing for 121 yards and East's final touchdown of the first half.
The junior also had eight catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, senior defensive end Jace Mitchell moved to middle linebacker.
"It feels amazing," Mitchell said. "My senior year I wanted to bring it back and make sure it stayed at East and it did."
Ortega also played a little defense at safety on Friday.
The third edition of the Battle for the Sword was the final one for Mitchell, Trevor Austin and Albert Longoria. The three seniors have played on every Titans varsity team.
"It's the best feeling, I got the boot three years in a row," Austin said.