The big showdown between the Waco Lions and the Ennis Lions is easily the game of the week in Ellis County.
Waco, ranked No. 2 in the state in the AP poll, ran over Wylie last week 35-15. The Lions racked up 433 yards rushing - 236 of them on 17 carries by Jarred Salubi.
Waco High is loaded with talent this season after losing in the state finals last year to LaMarque. The team slogan of “Unfinished business” gives the attitude of the Waco pride.
Salubi has gone on record to state that he intends to break the school rushing record of 2,532 yards set by Louis Fite.
Posting 237 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener is just as much a statement. Add fullback Bronshae’Keon Dugas, backup running back Charles Silmon plus quarterbacks Kyle Carter and Clarence Willis, and WHS fields one of the most explosive backfield combos in the state.
Last week head coach Johnny Tusa named the entire offensive line consisting of Nicholas Johnson, Jerold Smith, Quentin Evans, Jaffus Hardrick, Braxton Bennett and tight end Walter Hardin as the team offensive players of the game.
Coach Tusa had high praise for his defense as well. Waco held the Wylie offense, a spread offense patterned after the Ennis Spread, to 199 yards of total offense and only one sustained drive.
First year starters Andrew Weaver and Jamaar Walker had outstanding debuts for the Waco defense. Weaver had a pair of sacks,while Walker posted seven tackles and 1 sack and was named the HEB Kickoff Classic Defensive Player of the Game.
Another stellar name on the Waco roster is Victor Johnson, an all-state safety.
Waco is just one of the talented teams from District 16-4A. In the AP poll Copperas Cove held the top spot with a 33-0 shutout over San Angelo Central. Waco in the second slot downed Wylie. Brownwood, ranked No. 10, took a 28-21 win over Abilene Wylie.
Ennis presented Sam Harrell with victory number 140 as the Lions’ head coach with a 48-0 thumping of Waco University. Exhibiting a balanced attack the Lions rushed for 276 yards and passed for 246 in the whitewash rout.
Quarterback Chris Lewis hit 17 of 27 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. Lee King rushed 10 times for 57 yards and a trio of touchdowns. Deonte McDade, in at backup quarterback, ran seven times for 98 yards and had touchdown runs of 24 and 26 yards.
McDade was sterling on the defensive side of the ball picking off two interceptions. The Lion defense had five picks and forced six fumbles, recovering four of them.
The game began for the Ennis defense with an interception. “That was a heck of a way to start,” Harrell said. “We never seemed to ease up and kept getting after them. We knew it was going to be tough for people to throw on our cornerbacks and it was.”
The nine turnovers helped the Lions’ offense get started as Lewis guided Ennis to a 34-0 halftime lead.
“When the defense plays well, we play well,” Lewis said. “That was a tremendous way to get things started. When the defense plays like that it gets (the offense) excited and we want to match what they did.”
After McDade’s interception on the first play, the Lions got a field goal from Ivan Solis to take a 3-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
University’s offense struggled mightily in the first half as six of their eight possessions before halftime resulted in turnovers.
The Lions took full advantage. On Ennis’ third possession, Lewis found sophomore Kyle Guinyard for a 43-yard pass completion that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Lee King just before the end of the first quarter to give the Lions an 11-0 lead.
Ennis scored 23 points in the second quarter, all of which came after University turnovers.
Lewis threw for 236 of his 246 yards in the first half while completing passes to five different receivers. Guinyard and Cortney Brooks were his favorite targets as the pair combined for 217 receiving yards and a touchdown.
“Chris had a great first half,” Harrell said. “He made some big throws and the receivers made some big catches. A lot of people didn’t know about Kyle (Guinyard), but we’ve known about him for a long time.”
Lewis, who started two games last season, completed 9 of 10 passes at one point of the first half.
“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better,” Lewis said of the season-opening win. “I couldn’t have had the night I had without the offensive line or the receivers. I threw some bad balls, but our receivers made some great catches. They made me look good.”
Ennis scored two more times in the third quarter to put the game out of reach for good.