Sulphur Springs no match for Ennis

Lions turn game into rout early on homecoming night

Don Hullett
Daily Light correspondent
Ennis ISD athletic director Don Drake observes the scene in front of EHS cheerleaders and a packed homecoming crowd on Friday night before the game against Sulphur Springs.

ENNIS — Homecoming night is a time when old friends, families, and players come back to their alma mater and relive the glory days of their youth. Last Friday night was no exception to the rule, as the Ennis Lions played host to the Wildcats from Sulphur Springs in a contest that could have been viewed as a “trap” game.

The final score was 47-14 at the end of the evening – but it could have been so much worse on Sulphur Springs. However, head coach Sam Harrell called his thirsty Lions off at the start of the second half and instead, played his second- and third-string replacements to give these backup guys some game reps to grow on.

Ennis won the toss of the coin and elected to receive the kick to start the game. The Wildcats were able to bend but not break on the opening EHS drive, which forced the Lions to punt and the ball was downed on the SSHS 1 yard line. On the Wildcats’ third play from scrimmage, quarterback Matt Mitchell dropped back into his own end zone and was buried when senior linebacker Brayden Gardner rushed across the line untouched off the edge, and sacked the surprised Wildcat field general, giving the Lions the early 2-0 lead. And once the Lions had that early taste for blood, they pounced with authority.

After Ashton Ehly returned the Cats free kick 25 yards, Ennis set up shop on the Sulphur Springs 45. It took all of 2 plays for junior QB Jackson Gilkey to find wide out freshman Gracen Harris for a 45 yard scoring bomb, and with the Allan Hernandez extra point, the score was quickly 9-0.

Ennis held the Wildcats and forced a punt with the home team starting on offense again, this time at their own 32. Some 15 plays and 68 yards later, junior running back Jace Berry plowed in from 4 yards out, and with the point after kick by Hernandez, the score was now 16-0 and mounting quickly.

The Lions defense followed with an interception, and EHS was in business once again, this time from the SSHS 32. Ennis drove the ball 32 yards in 7 plays, and the drive culminated with a 1-yard plunge by senior running back Devion Beasley. Again, the extra point was perfect, and the score had ballooned to 23-0, as the opening quarter “finally” came to an end.

With the start of the second period, it was confirmed that quarter #2 was not going to see much difference in the game. The Wildcats promptly fumbled the ball at their own 7-yard line and it was scooped up by Brayden Gardner, who scooted in. After the Hernandez extra point, the scoreboard illuminated the tally of 30-0 in Ennis’ favor.

After another SSHS drive and another punt, Ennis took only 4 plays and the short drive covered 55 yards, when Gilkey strolled into 6-point land. This time, backup kicker Eric Acosta added the point-after to make it 37-0, with 7:58 to go in the half.

Another Cats possession and another Cats punt, and Ennis took over on their own 46. This drive was the “Gilkey show,” as he hit Skylan Simmons for 6 yards, Harris for 27 yards, and finished it off with a highlight reel catch from Simmons in the back corner of the end zone for the 6 points. Hernandez was back in the line-up again for the Lions and his 1-point kick helped make the score 44-0, as the first half mercifully came to an end for the Wildcats.

Sulphur Springs received the second half kickoff, and now as usual, they had to punt the ball back to the Lions. The next EHS effort was literately a one-man drive, as junior tight end / running back, Julio Dominguez carried the ball on every play of this march down the field, as he rushed for 39 total yards. In a somewhat “mercy" field goal attempt, the Lions’ Hernandez kicked a 26-yarder on a second-down-and-6 situation – to bring the Lions’ scoring for the evening to an end.

At that point, coach Harrell decided it was high time to let his other players get some valuable playing snaps to gain experience and confidence in future contests down the road. Sulphur Springs was able to get into the end zone twice, late in the game.

Ennis was led by Gilkey with 11 completion and 17 attempts for 187 yards and 2 TDs. Senior Miguel Gonzalez rushed 12 times for 53 yards, Beasley had 8 touches for 46 yards and 1 TD, and Dominguez had 5 carries for 39 yards. Harris continued his outstanding season with 8 catches for 161 yards and 1 TD. Simmons built on what he had done last week, with 10 catches for 90 yards, including 1 TD, and also 2 receptions for 27 yards each.

Ennis (5-0, 2-0) will enjoy a bye week as they prepare for a positive push toward the playoffs, when they travel to North Forney to take on the Falcons on Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m.