Calhoun earns share of district title, helps coach win 100th game
Oct. 27, 2012 at 5:27 a.m.
PORT LAVACA - It's doubtful any of Richard Whitaker's players recall when Rudy Tomjanovich said "don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion," or why he said it. But, to them, it sure sounded nice.
Whitaker used that phrase Friday night after his Calhoun football team throttled Beeville 39-6 to win at least a share of the District 30-4A championship.
People much older than the Sandcrabs will remember Tomjanovich said that phrase when he coached Houston Rockets to a second straight NBA championship, despite being doubted along the way.
A year after the Sandcrabs (8-0, 5-0) graduated more than 30 lettermen and 21 starters, they have remained on top - just as Tomjanavich's team did 17 years ago.
"It was fantastic. It was amazing becoming a district champ," said Calhoun senior linebacker Geoff Youngblood. "A lot of people didn't believe in us. We came through and dominated. It was amazing."
Devian Cantu scored three touchdowns, including a 94-yard kickoff return to start the second half, to help the Sandcrabs clinch a second straight district title.
Cantu is one of a number of seniors who made the most of an opportunity when it arose. He only touched the ball five times Friday night, but amassed 212 all-purpose yards.
"What a lot of people don't know about this senior class was in seventh grade and eighth grade these guys didn't win a game," Whitaker said.
"In ninth grade, they only won a couple games. This was a class that had resiliency. This was a class that continued to work. They stayed in the weight room, lift weights and run hard. They bid their time, played on the JV. When a majority of them had their chance this year, they really wanted to fill those shoes and they did."
Defensively, Calhoun may be better than the 2011 team that ran through the regular season undefeated.
Friday was the third time in five games a district opponent didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Beeville, like Gregory-Portland on Oct. 12, scored a fourth quarter touchdown after trailing by five touchdowns.
"Two words: missed opportunities," said Beeville head coach Troy Moses. "That pretty much sums it up. We had opportunities early in the game to make it a ball game. .They have been blowing everybody out every week. We had opportunities early in the game to put pressure on them, make them play under pressure, and we missed those opportunities."
The Trojans (2-6, 0-4) drove the ball to the Sandcrabs 2 yard line late in the first quarter. On fourth and a yard, Beeville tried to run a play wide to the left, but Calhoun cornerback Taylor Lee was there to force a two-yard loss.
Trailing 20-0 the visitors had a chance to put points on the board just before halftime, after a pass interference penalty in the end zone gave Beeville the ball at the Calhoun 2 yard line. However, the quarterback ran into his fullback and the play never amounted to anything.
"Monday through Wednesday we all came out with positive attitudes," said an ecstatic Youngblood. "We were ready to play and punished them up front. Our defensive lineman came through. They weren't ready for us."
Moses said they were. He said the problem is his team didn't execute, whereas Calhoun did.
Beeville was inside the Calhoun 15 yard line three times Friday night, but only scored on an Ernest Suniga 5 yard touchdown run with 6:48 remaining.
Calhoun scored on three of its four first half possessions. The one time the Sandcrabs were stopped was when Cantu put the ball on the ground after a 27 yard run. But, he made up for the miscue with an 82 yard touchdown run on his next carry.
In addition to winning a fifth district championship in seven years, Calhoun's win was the 100th career victory for Whitaker. As much as Whitaker tried to downplay his accomplishment, some Sandcrabs were well aware of it and wanted to win for him.
Whitaker has a 68-25 record during his eight-year tenure in Port Lavaca.
Before Whitaker arrived in 2005 the Sandcrabs had not made the playoffs in 44 years. The last time a Calhoun County football team had three straight winning seasons was the '40s. Under the direction of Bill Saylor, Port Lavaca High School went 41-13-4 between 1944 and 1949, winning five district championships in that span.
Before arriving at Calhoun Whitaker was the head coach at Kingsville. But, he credits his nine-year tenure as an assistant at Houston Aldine, and those around him, for his success.
"I was very fortunate in my young career to work under a man by the name of Bill Smith, who was a legend in Texas," Whitaker said. "He's one of the best coaches ever in the history of Texas. In my young career I had a chance to work under him and learn the option game and the techniques you teach. I was fortunate."
"Along the way, I've had some great players and great coaches working for me. You don't win any games without good players and we've been fortunate to have those."