RED OAK – For a long time, it appeared Daniel Almaguer’s goal less than seven minutes into Friday’s regular season finale between Red Oak and Ennis would be the only points of the night. Then, the Hawk offense woke up and took fight.
Red Oak tacked on two more first half goals and another six in the second half to roll past the Lions 8-2 and finish the District 28-4A schedule with a perfect 9-0-1 record for the program’s second-straight district title.
“At the start I didn’t like the way a little bit of our body language that I normally don’t see was apparent right off the bat. I was wondering how we were going to respond but they came to the challenge,” coach Trent Kutch said. “We took care of business today but it’s still something I don’t want to see when we roll into the next round.”
Almaguer’s open shot off a Shay Pate assist was the precursor to a big game for the senior as he finished with a hat trick for the night. Almaguer added the third goal of the first half on a breakaway shot and capped his night on a penalty kick after Pate was dragged down to set up the score.
With the game still tight after Almaguer’s first shot, the Hawks turned momentum with just 16 minutes left in the first half. After a foul was called to set up a free kick from about 35 yards out, sophomore Jose Flores, normally known as a defender, lined up and launched a looping shot that glanced off the Ennis goalkeepers gloves and settled in the back of the net.
That shot was a spark of a big offensive surge.
“I thought it was going to go over when I hit it. I seriously did,” Flores said with a laugh. “Then I saw it drift down and I got happy because that’s my second goal in two games.”
Pate put his first goal in the net less than five minutes into the second half to put the Hawks up 4-0 before Ennis finally got on the board. Four minutes after the Lions scored, Almaguer responded with that penalty kick. Exactly :25 later, Pate added his second goal of the night to the scoreboard and the rout was back on.
Reserve Arron Alonzo scored on a breakaway while Joel Ramirez capped the scoring with a penalty kick for the final points of the night. Jeremiah Garcia and Javier Santoyo were credited with assists.
Closing out another district season undefeated with a championship was a high note to end the regular season on for the Hawks who await determination on their playoff opponent.
Kutch admits at the beginning of the season he was worried about how his team would react to losing some key seniors and the challenge of being the hunted instead of the hunter.
Friday’s finale was proof his program is ready for that kind of responsibility.
“I think this year at the beginning of the year all of us were thinking that we’re losing a lot of our starting players and everything but I think the main thing this year is we might not have the most technical players but we’ve got a lot of heart. We’re just driving and playing as a team and we’ve really come together,” senior Preston Hancock said.
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