Armendarez, Bearkats throttle Bulldogs

Raymondville running back Justin Smith (8) sprints down the sideline, chased by Orange Grove defenders Jesse Martinez (56) and Marshal Saha (27) during a non-district game against Orange Grove Friday night at Burnett Stadium in Raymondville. The Bearkats defeated the Bulldogs 49-6.

RAYMONDVILLE — Raymondville didn’t miss a beat with its new-look offense, as ZaRaivion Armendarez led the way with five touchdowns in a 49-6 win over Orange Grove on Friday night at Burnett Stadium.

Armendarez set the tone for the Bearkats (5-1) from the jump, as a bad snap and fumble recovered by Raymondville’s Isaiah Gloria out of a punt formation led to Raymondville taking its first offensive snap from the Orange Grove 8-yard line.

“(Armendarez) is amazing,” Raymondville coach Frank Cantu said. “It’s fun to watch. I’m proud of him. He works his tail off, and I’m glad that it’s paying off for him.”

It was Armendarez, of course, who took that snap and breezed his way into the end zone to give the Bearkats a lead they did not relinquish with 10:11 to play in the first quarter.

Raymondville sophomore quarterback Jason Cantu, who started in place of junior quarterback Jarod Cavazos, was effective in commanding the offense against the Bulldogs (0-4).

Jason Cantu and the Bearkats opened up the playbook, with a reverse that featured Armendarez and senior running back Justin Smith. The end result of the play was a 44-yard touchdown for Smith that gave Raymondville a 22-point lead, up 28-6 with 2:12 remaining in the second quarter.

“That was a great call,” Frank Cantu said. “Last week, we ran a reverse on the 1-yard line. So (they) like that play, and we dialed it up at the right time.”

Smith later rushed for a 50-yard touchdown, taking the handoff from third-string quarterback Diego Gutierrez and giving the Bearkats a 49-6 advantage with 8:35 to play in the fourth quarter.

Armendarez added a 13-yard rushing touchdown with 6:36 to go in the second quarter and a 15-yard rushing touchdown that widened the Raymondville lead to 21-0 at the 4:39 mark of the second quarter.

The latter of those two scores was again facilitated by a turnover on downs caused by a poor snap with Orange Grove backed up deep in its own territory.

The Bearkats’ leading rusher tacked on the first points of the second half with a 34-yard rushing touchdown with 6:19 to go in the third quarter to put the game away for the home team with a comfortable 35-6 lead. He hauled in a 31-yard pass from Jason Cantu for his fifth touchdown with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.

Orange Grove quarterback Cutter Stewart got the Bulldogs on the board with a deep pass to wide receiver Connor Eulenfeld for a 75-yard touchdown that brought the score to 21-6 with 3:40 remaining in the second quarter.

The Raymondville defense thwarted Orange Grove at nearly every opportunity, including a fumble by Stewart at the Bearkats’ 22-yard line that was forced and recovered by Gutierrez during the final seconds of the first quarter.

“I thought that we were just pressuring and pressuring them,” Frank Cantu said. “I thought that the kids just played hard, and that Orange Grove played hard. I don’t think the score reflects how hard they played, but our kids just kept coming.”

Cavazos did not play and was not on the sideline during the game Friday. Frank Cantu declined to comment on Cavazos’ status.

Stefan Modrich Total Posts: 158 Stefan Modrich is a 2017 graduate of Arizona State University, where he was the Sports Editor for The State Press, ASU's independent student news publication. He is also a graduate of the University of Zagreb in Croatia, where he completed a foreign language program in 2018. A native of Franklin Park, Illinois, Modrich previously covered high school sports for The Arizona Republic, Chicago Tribune, and Mars Reel Media.