BY JOHN CANNON |
HARLINGEN — Even though he had been on the job as head football coach for Harlingen South since early March, Brian Ricci officially made his debut on the field Friday night.
Ricci’s first official night on the job was a successful one as he picked up his first ever win as a head coach thanks to a 21-14 win over McAllen High in both teams’ season openers at Boggus Stadium.
Ricci, who came to South after serving as offensive coordinator for Richmond George Ranch, said he was so happy to pick up his first career win as a head coach.
“It’s wonderful and it feels great,” said Ricci. “I have a good group of kids and I am excited about the years to come. This is a great place and I am excited to get my first win as a head coach right here.”
South scored on its very first drive of the game as they drove the ball 58 yards on 11 plays and capped it off with a 5-yard touchdown run by Jorge Alicea to take a 7-0 lead with 4:34 left in the first quarter.
Alicea added another touchdown to his total in the second quarter as he ran it in from 8-yards out while helping the Hawks extend their lead to 14-0 at the 8:44 mark. Alicea had a solid night as he ran for 61 yards on 11 carries and hit pay dirt twice.
The Bulldogs were able to cut the lead in half with 23 seconds left in the first half thanks to a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Mark Martinez. McAllen High chewed up a ton of time off of the clock on that scoring drive as they went 75 yards on 17 plays over an eight minute period.
Matthew Zavala put the Hawks up 21-7 after a 1-yard touchdown run with 7:54 left in the third quarter.
McHi inched closer in the fourth as quarterback Ruben Rodriguez found Sandon Yarto open in the end zone for a 23-yard score, trimming the deficit to 21-14 with 7:36 left in the game.
South, however, ran out the clock as the Hawks kept the ball on the ground and picked up key first downs, which helped them seal the deal.
“We will enjoy this one tonight and then get back to work tomorrow,” said Ricci. “We have PSJA High on Thursday and need to start preparing for them.”