While the La Feria Lions looked every bit like a veteran football team in its first action of the season, the hosting Hanna Golden Eagles showed signs of youth.
Led by quarterback Dorian Hernandez, the La Feria offense gave the young Hanna defense fits, finding the end zone four times during the first scrimmage for both teams Friday night at Sams Memorial Stadium.
La Feria and Hanna each put up a pair of touchdowns in the controlled part of the scrimmage, but it was the Lions who prevailed 16-14 after two semi-live quarters where plays were blown dead prematurely to protect the quarterbacks.
“First of all, Hanna is a good team,” La Feria coach Oscar Salinas said. “It’s good to play great competition. Our kids came out to play; they were focused and ready to go. We’ve had a good two weeks of practice. We came out here and our kids played well tonight.
Hernandez had a big night as he threw for a touchdown in the controlled portion — a 33-yard strike to Derek Perez — and ran for another from near midfield during the first live quarter.
Hanna’s defense struggled to start both the controlled and the live portions, giving up touchdowns to La Feria on the first two drives of each segment.
“When we set this scrimmage up, we knew what we were getting into,” Hanna coach Mark Guess said. “La Feria is a great program year in and year out, and they have been for a number of years. Coach Salinas does a great job with those kids and we knew it was going to be a battle for us with our youth, and it showed early on. We started making some strides and started growing up a little bit towards the end of the scrimmage, but it took us a while to wake up. It’s OK because we’re going to go back and see what we did wrong and what we did right, and especially fix some things that were wrong.”
Hanna quarterback Victor Campos and the rest of the Hanna offense struggled in their first bunch of plays during the controlled portion.
It wasn’t until their second set of first-team reps that Campos hit Ryan Trinidad for a 70-yard catch and run for a score. Hanna running back Brandon Robles also scored on a short run after Campos and Trinidad hooked up for another long gain to set them up.
The Lions put up 16 points during the first live quarter, scoring on Hernandez’s long run (missing the point after), a Avishai Dickerson 2-yard run and a 28-yard field goal.
Campos put Hanna on the board with a 12-yard touchdown pass and Robles added a 5-yard run to make it 16-14.
La Feria’s secondary was a big reason why Campos and the Eagles failed to score early in the controlled portion as they forced plays to be blown early due to downfield coverage.
Cornerback Evan Avila parlayed that coverage into two interceptions on long passes near the goal line on two different occasions.
“Evan Avila has been there three years at corner for us,” Salinas said. “He’s a good kid with a lot of experience and played really well tonight.”
While the Golden Eagles’ offense struggled, they did not have full use of their biggest weapon in Campos.
Several Hanna plays were blown dead early, but each time Campos was on the run with a small bit of daylight to evade defenders.
Campos’ legs and ability to extend plays were a big part of Hanna’s passing game last year and will be even more so this year.
“(Campos’) decision making has gotten a lot better than last year,” Guess said. “There are times he knows he needs to get rid of the ball and not hold on to it. The good thing is that he’s pretty athletic. If he pulls that thing down, he’ll be a tough load to tackle.”