LA FERIA — Dorian Hernandez accounted for five La Feria touchdowns, Avishai Dickerson rushed for three scores, and the Lions routed rival Santa Rosa 63-0 in the annual Battle of 506 on Friday night at Lion Stadium.
“You can’t ask for a better way to start off (the home schedule),” La Feria coach Oscar Salinas said. “A big win against our rival school. Being 1-0 here is a great start to our season.”
After punting on its opening drive, Hernandez kicked the La Feria offense into high gear, putting the team up three scores one minute into the second quarter.
Daniel Garza, Dereck Perez and Caleb Flores all had receptions of at least 20 yards during Friday night’s contest for the Lions (2-0). The latter two also each had touchdown catches.
Dickerson’s last touchdown came late in the third quarter, good for a game-high 66 yards on the ground to put La Feria ahead 55-0.
“We’re trying to get (Dickerson) going,” Salinas said. “He had a good game tonight. We’re going to need him and (Angel Garcia), that one-two punch that we have, to give us that balance this year.”
The Lions relentlessly pressured Santa Rosa quarterbacks Reese Lara and Jose Ruiz, as Guillermo Vargas and Andrew Rodriguez recorded sacks during the first quarter and never allowed the Warriors’ offense to settle in.
“That’s where the youth is, up front,” Salinas said. “But those kids are playing hard, and they’re getting after it. That (effort) has been there. They’re overcoming their size (disadvantage) with their quickness and their discipline.”
Santa Rosa also was harmed by four defensive penalties that helped sustain La Feria scoring drives, and was penalized nine times during the game.
The Lions thwarted the Warriors’ best scoring chance of the night when Aaron Trevino intercepted a Ruiz pass intended for Mike Bermea on first-and-goal from the La Feria 7-yard line with 2:30 to go in the third quarter.
The longest Santa Rosa drive of the game by duration was made possible by Jose Diaz-Mendez’s 49-yard kickoff return that gave the Warriors their best starting field position of the evening.
Backup running back Devin Spears, working with backup quarterback Dario Sanchez, was a workhorse for the Lions in this fourth quarter, and finally cashed in with a 3-yard touchdown run of his own with 5:01 to go in the game to cap an explosive offensive night for the home team.
La Feria alumnus and Air Force firefighter Randy Cantu had a surprise in the works for his family, particularly senior linebacker Ricky Cantu, before Friday night’s game during the parent’s night ceremony.
“It was a really special moment,” Salinas said. “Even I got emotional, with Randy being like a son to us. For him to be here was really great.”
Randy, a former linebacker, was a four-year starter for the Lions. He emerged from an inflatable tent, shielded by La Feria coaches standing behind the end zone as Ricky’s name was called, and he was escorted by his mother and youngest brother.
The brothers embraced with handshakes and hugs, and enjoyed a warm reception from the La Feria crowd.
When Randy and Ricky’s father relocated to the Marshall Islands for work, it meant he wouldn’t be able to make Ricky’s first home game of the season. But Randy knew he could try to make up for his father’s absence by surprising his brothers and his mother on the newly installed turf at Lion Stadium.
“I just figured I’d take my dad’s position,” Randy said. “I knew someone else would do the same for me, so I just wanted to surprise my mom and my brother.”
Randy, who is stationed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., arrived Friday morning in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I was just so fascinated,” said Ricky, who sports the No. 6 like his older brother. “I didn’t know anything about it. I saw him, and I knew I had to give it all on the field tonight.”