Cashion able to lock up Hooker offense, push around defense to advance
Hooker had seen “D” like this once before this season, but not with this combination of “O.”
Cashion put together a dominant display on both defense and offense last Friday to eliminate the visiting Bulldogs, 55-6, from the second round of the Class A playoffs.
The victory moves Cashion (11-1) into the quarterfinal round for the third straight year. The Wildcats will play at Woodland at 7 p.m. Friday.
Woodland upset previously-unbeaten Gore 20-19 in their second-round matchup.
Hooker walked onto Maxon Field with a 10-1 mark and was averaging 37.7 points a game.
The Bulldogs were held to 6 points in their first game of the season, but came out with a win by shutting out Clayton, N.M.
They headed back to the panhandle after amassing just 187 total yards while surrendering 518 to a balanced Cashion attack.
“It all started with the defense,” coach Lynn Shackelford said. “Those guys have been playing good and continued it Friday.”
Hooker’s run game was nearly non-existent. The Bulldogs netted 21 yards with their 23 attempts.
After pulling within 14-6 in the second quarter, they were left to play catchup as Cashion rattled off 41 straight points.
That meant Gavynn Parker had to go to the air.
The 6-foot-5 senior quarterback was 22 of 38, but for only 166 total yards.
He threw a TD to Zac Hildalgo, but was also picked off by Cashion’s Seth Gilbert.
As the defense was getting stops - Hooker punted five times - the offense was chewing up yards.
In the first quarter, the scores came on the ground.
Nick Nabavi scored on a 1-yard run and Ben Harman from 2 yards out as the Wildcats built a 14-0 lead.
After the visitors cut the lead nearly in half, Cashion went to air strikes.
First it was Mason Manning.
The wideout caught TD passes of 36 and 13 yards as the lead was extended to 28-6 by halftime.
In the third, Nabavi bulled his way in from the 1 again to make it 35-6.
Then it was Landon LaGasse’s turn.
The senior hauled in Harman passes of 83 and 10 yards for scores before Nabavi put a bow on the game with a 20-yard scamper.
Harman was again efficient as he went 14 of 20 for 280 yards and four touchdowns with a turnover.
LaGasse’s four catches covered 110 yards.
Manning caught six for 90 more.
Meantime, Nabavi punished Hooker with 23 carries for 155 yards, an average of 6.7 a carry.
Harman and Max Brown combined for another 83 yards on just 11 tries.
The Wildcats averaged 7.0 yards per carry.
But it was the defense that had the Bulldogs flipping frustrated.
Cashion forced two turnovers and had nine tackles for a loss that resulted in minus-40 yards for Hooker.
Nabavi was in on two of those TFL’s and joined Manning with garnering a team-high seven stops.
Jackson Vandruff had six tackles, two of them for a loss, and Bryce Burke added five tackles.
Through its first six games, Cashion three times gave up 28 or more points.
In the six games since, the Wildcats have surrendered 49 total points, or an average of 8.2 points a game.
“This is the time of year where your defense can win you games,” Shackelford said. “I like the way they’re playing right now.”