Bulldogs face Vaqueros for 16-3A DI crown

LYFORD — Just as Nick Saban once famously said, “Are you going to focus on what you did or on what you are going to do?” the Lyford Bulldogs have taken that same approach.

A team that began the year at 1-3 has forgotten the first half of the season and has found its form and health on its way to five consecutive victories.

Now, it is only fitting that the District 16-3A Division title comes down to one last game against the San Diego Vaqueros (6-3, 4-0).

“The main thing that changed is that we are completely healthy,” said Lyford head coach Israel Gonzalez. “We had some injuries early on with Frank Moreno and Layne Klostermann, but combined with learning a new system, we dropped a couple close games to 4A schools but nonetheless you want to play those games to get the competition level early, and like Nick Saben said, ‘We would rather lose early than lose late’ and I think we are at a point where we are gelling and peaking at the right time.

“Like I tell the kids, ‘we hit the top of the rollercoaster and the rest of the way it’s just going to be a whole bunch of fun hitting it on the way down at full speed.’”

Defensively, the Bulldogs will have their hands full as the Vaqueros come in to the contest with massive 3,008 total offensive yards. On the ground, Ryan Briones leads the Vaqueros with 921 yards and seven touchdowns on 123 carries followed by dual-threat quarterback Ryan Ochoa, who has rushed for 393 yards and 10 touchdowns on 58 carries. Through the air, meanwhile, Ochoa has led the team to five consecutive victories with 1,266 yards passing and nine TDs on 77 of 158 passing attempts.

For the Bulldogs, the tandem of Frank Moreno and Javier Gonzalez has come up big for Lyford’s rushing attack. Moreno leads the team with 737 yards and nine TDs on 86 carries while Gonzalez follows closely behind with 636 yards and 12 TDs on 78 carries.

Under center, quarterback Chase Hinojosa has led the team to its fifth consecutive victory by passing for 1,185 yards and eight touchdowns on 88 of 166 passing attempts.

“Our mentality is to just win,” said senior Javier Gonzalez. “We’ve practiced really hard and we know that it’s for the district title so our mindset is just to win.

“We want to win back-to-back district titles, especially for us seniors because this will be our last home game, too.”

“It’s an exciting time of the year, not just because playoffs are close but because the weather starts to change and it just starts to feel a little more like football season,” added Gonzalez. “We’ve done a good job with district play and getting ourselves to the point where we are going to be able to compete against a real good San Diego team that is also coming in at 4-0, and we’re going to have fun and represent Lyford as best we can.”