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Warriors finish area playoff game with a bang (w/gallery)

By Julie Garcia
Nov. 23, 2013 at 5:23 a.m.

Victoria West  players, from left, David Hisquierdo, Roman Barrientez, Jerry Villarreal and Zach Janzow celebrate after defeating Laredo Martin  38-7 at Shirley Field in Laredo.

LAREDO - After nearly four weeks off the gridiron due to an injury, Victoria West senior Qualian Bryant was happy to rejoin his team in Laredo Saturday night.

"I'm in a little bit of pain, but I'm fighting through it," Bryant said. "It's my senior year, and I've got to go out with a bang."

It was definitely a bang, but West (9-3) was far from going out of the playoffs after its 38-7 Class 4A, Division I area playoff victory over Laredo Martin (7-5).

After a sluggish first half where West kicker Ernesto Perez made a field goal for its only points of the half, and the Tigers scored a touchdown, the Warriors took halftime to regroup and refocus.

"We just stayed with the plan and talked about how we need to move the ball faster," West coach Leonard McAngus said. "We started what we call our 'fast ball offense,' toward a fast pace where we were snapping the ball really fast. I think that got us going and put (Laredo Martin) on their heels."

This isn't the first time West has been down at halftime and come back for a solid victory, and McAngus is proud of that fact.

"It's what our kids do, they've done it all year," McAngus said. "Defensively, we played good all night. Offensively, we were kind of slow moving, but as the second half came on, we were hitting on all cylinders and had some great plays by our kids."

In the first half, the Warriors and Tigers combined for only four first downs, and minimal rushing yardage.

But by the third quarter, the Warriors found their strategy and made plays happen.

With a kickoff return for a touchdown and three interceptions by West players, the defense and special teams were taking no prisoners.

Quarterback Tony Navarro had 13 rushes for 101 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore running back Gamarquis Girdy had seven rushes for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

During halftime, Girdy said the coaches told the players tohave a bigger impact on the game in the second half.

"It was either our last time or it wasn't; it was do-or-die," Girdy said. "It's a good win as a team, and it shows that we can do it next week now."

Fellow sophomore running back Zevaughn Shelton scored one rushing touchdown, but put up the most rushing yards of anyone on the field with 22 rushes for 171 yards.

The further he goes into playoffs, Shelton said that he's getting the drive to play better and work harder during the game.

"They've got so much talent and they're just getting better every week," McAngus said about Girdy and Shelton. "They're surrounded by really strong seniors and upperclassmen that are helping them be successful."

Shelton counts the seniors on the team as a major part of West's success, and he said he wants to go further for them.

"The seniors felt really great because they know this is their last year and they wanted to go further than they've ever been," Shelton said. "We stepped our game up - we're going to miss them."

This is the furthest the Warriors have gone in playoffs in their four-year history and will face San Antonio Brennan Saturday at 2 p.m. at San Antonio Farris stadium.

"They're one of the top ranked teams in the state, a very good football team," McAngus said about Brennan, which West has scouted once before.

But Bryant isn't worried about Brennan just yet.

"It doesn't matter if they're ranked, we're going to go out and play our A-game, and the best team will win," Bryant said. "Every team is in the playoffs for a reason."

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