Calhoun faces off against Calallen in regular season ender

Calhoun lineman Nick Rodriguez celebrates with teammate Coewin Boerm after the victory over Calallen at Sandcrab Stadium.

PORT LAVACA – Calhoun defensive tackle Nick Rodriguez wanted nothing more than to play varsity football at Calhoun.

So when Miguel Valadez, a starter on the defensive line graduated in the offseason, Rodriguez got his chance.

“When Miguel graduated, defensive line coach (David) Davis told me I had big shoes to fill,” Rodriguez said. “It was going to be a big challenge for me but I knew if I put the work in, I could overcome it.”

Rodriguez spent his first three years of high school on the junior varsity team before earning a starting spot as a senior.

Now, his only goal left is to help the Sandcrabs win a state championship.

“Our first goal was to win district, our second was to go deep in the playoffs and our third goal is to keep winning and be successful,” Rodriguez said. “Our love for the team is what helps us win.”

Rodriguez and Calhoun will look to keep their ambitions alive when they continue their playoff run against Boerne-Champion at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bastrop Memorial Stadium.

The Sandcrabs (9-2) are coming off a 70-14 bi-district win over Mission Sharyland to win their sixth consecutive game.

The Chargers (10-1) defeated Glenn 70-34.

The winner will advance to the regional round against the winner of Friday’s Mission Pioneer-Pflugerville Weiss game.

“This is a whole different ball game this week,” said Calhoun coach Richard Whitaker. “They have one of the best offensive groups that we’ve seen all year long. It starts with their quarterback – he’s a phenomenal duel threat. He’s fast and he has a cast of characters with him. He has a good running back next to him, and he has targets he can throw to with a tremendous line in front of him.”

The Chargers quarterback is TCU commit Luke Boyers, who is the reigning District 14-5A, Division II offensive MVP.

Boyers and Champion are averaging 40 points per game.

“They’re good on offense,” said Calhoun running back Sean Flores. “We have to focus and perform to the best of our ability.”

Flores has been a big reason Calhoun has been able to get off to quick starts in games.

Whether its a kickoff return or a big running play to set up his teammates, Flores is always looking to do what he can to help his team win.

“The first drive and play of the game is always the biggest,” Flores said. “We’ve shown that if we come out strong, it’s hard to stop us.”

This is the second consecutive year that Calhoun has reached the area round. The Sandcrabs are still averaging over 50 points per game and have scored 60 points or more six times.

Calhoun fullback Steve Johnson has rushed for 2,165 yards and 28 touchdowns, while quarterback Conner Kestler has rushed for 1,392 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Jarius Stewart has six interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.

“It’s been a great for our kids and they’ve had my back all year round,” Whitaker said. “These guys are focused and now they’ve put themselves in a good position. There’s no guarantee that you’ll make it back to these situations again so you have to make the best of the ones you have, and I think our kids will Friday night.”

Rey Castillo is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at rcastillo@vicad.com, 361-574-1240 or on Twitter @reycastillo361.

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