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Marjorie French
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‘One-handed’ Eagles return

October 14, 2020 - 00:00
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With minimal practice, Hennessey falls to Blackwell after 2-week quarantine

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Paul Hix said last week’s football game for his Hennessey Eagles “felt like one hand was tied behind our backs.”

That’s not a knock on his team, just the situation it has faced for the last few weeks.

Hennessey returned to the field Friday and suffered a 46-34 setback to the visiting Blackwell Maroons.

For the Eagles, it was their first game since beating Crooked Oak on Sept. 18.

Not long after, the team was forced to go into quarantine protocol after a member tested positive for COVID-19.

Not only did that mean no games for two weeks, but also no practices.

“We had our first full practice last Tuesday,” said Hix, the team’s head coach. “And we finally had a majority of our guys out by Wednesday.”

That left little time to not only prepare for the Maroons, but also physically prepare for the game itself.

“Our biggest challenge was to figure out how much time to devote to conditioning and get physically ready as well as introduce a game plan,” Hix said. “How much time do we practice without physically running them into the ground, but at the same time get them ready to play on Friday?

“It was almost like starting the preseason again.”

And while Hix saw his Eagles post one of their better offensive performances of the season, he also saw some of the rust that’s a result of no practices for multiple weeks.

The Eagles turned it over five times. Hix said all of them were in or near the red zone, including an interception in the end zone with just a couple of minutes remaining that would have pulled Hennessey within a single score.

It was the third interception for sophomore quarterback Sebastian Gonzalez.

However, he also threw two touchdowns and ran for two more.

He was 15 of 28 for 215 yards.

“This is a kid who going into the season didn’t have any intentions of playing quarterback, but he had to jump in there,” Hix said. “He wasn’t groomed for the position. Last year he was a ‘backup-backup’ offensive lineman.

“He’s got a nice ceiling, but he just has to learn on the fly.”

The Eagles traded punches with Blackwell through the first half and early into the third.

Kaden Hawk caught a 26-yard score from Gonzalez to pull the Eagles within 8-6 late in the first quarter.

After Blackwell took a 16-6 halftime lead, the Eagles struck early in the third when Gonzalez found Keigen Crites for a 43-yard touchdown.

That pulled Hennessey within 16-13, but Blackwell scored 24 unanswered points to widen its lead.

“Some of the things I worried about took place,” Hix said. “We had a difficult time from a conditioning standpoint and struggled to take care of the ball.”

Crites and Gonzalez connected again in the fourth, this time for a 25- yard score with 9:04 to play.

Hennessey got the ball back and scored less than two minutes later on a Gonzlez 4-yard run.

Blackwell answered with yet another TD before Gonzalez made it 46- 34 with his 6-yard TD run and extra-point with 5:23 to play.

However, Blackwell was able to stymie the Eagles last best attempt to score again.

Gonzalez added 63 rushing yards.

Crites led the HHS rushing attack with 87 yards on 12 carries. He added 68 receiving yards.

Hawk racked up 94 yards on eight catches.

While Blackwell had moderate success through the air, the Maroons did much of their work on the ground.

They tallied 355 yards on 40 attempts.

Christian Mora toted it 17 times for 223 yards and three touchdowns.

Adan Valdez led the Eagle defense with nine tackles. Kaden Rapp added seven tackles and two sacks.

The loss dropped Hennessey to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in District 2A-1.

The Eagles host Chisholm (1-5, 0-3) for homecoming this Thursday.

“Their record doesn’t reflect it, but they’re a good, tough team,” Hix said of the Longhorns. “And I think they’re hitting their stride which makes it tougher for us.”

But Hix’s team will have a “mostly” regular week of practice for the first time in nearly a month.

“We’re really excited to be back to playing,” he said. “It’s a rivalry game so our guys will be pumped and our town will be excited.”