Posted Date: 09/14/2021
by: RISD Media Staff
In Bearkat Nation, there’s a well-known mantra that states: “Hard work pays off.”
This success mantra was in full display at the annual Willacy County Cotton Bowl.
After all the hype and pageantry that comes with a rivalry game, the Raymondville Bearkats emerged with a dominant 30-14 victory over the Lyford Bulldogs to claim the mythical county crown for the fourth straight matchup.
“There was a great atmosphere at the game. Our Bearkat fans came out in full force and their support was felt,” explained Raymondville head coach Frank Cantu, “I can’t say enough about the love and support we get from our community on a weekly basis.”
The standing room only crowd was treated to a genuine barnburner and didn’t wait long to cheer.
Raymondville struck first with an impressive twelve play drive that set the tone for the contest and ended on a 7- yard scoring run by Senior quarterback Jayson Cantu. A successful two-point conversion made it 8-0 early in the second quarter.
“We had a good game plan coming into the game. We knew we had to execute and play together,” said Senior captain Jayson Cantu, “After we marched down the field and scored, it gave us the confidence we needed.”
Lyford answered back with a score of their own making it 8-7. Then threatened to take the lead by reaching into their bag of tricks with a hook-and-ladder play that was spoiled by hustling defensive back Slade Gutierrez. Gutierrez stripped a Bulldog ball carrier near the goal line, sending the ball into the endzone for a touchback.
The hustle play helped swing momentum Raymondville’s way and the Bearkats never looked back.
“We stress all the time to keep playing until the whistle is blown,” added head coach Frank Cantu, “Slade’s hustle prevented a big play and gave us great momentum.”
After the intermission break, Raymondville made vital adjustments that saw Jayson Cantu scamper for a 25-yard scoring run that sent the crowd into a frenzy and gave the ‘Kats a 16-7 advantage.
Raymondville’s stingy defense kept the Bulldog offense in check holding them scoreless as the third quarter came to a close.
“Our coaching staff challenged the defense all week and they responded. The defense made some key stops and tackled well,” stated Frank Cantu, “Our goal has been to improve every week as a team and the kids have definitely put in the hard work. We were very proud of the effort and determination our kids showed on the field.”
The opportunistic Bearkat defense forced three Bulldog turnovers and were paced by the stellar play of Junior linebacker Hunter Posas, who recorded a game high 20 tackles.
“It was a great team effort. We worked hard all week to prepare for this game,” said Posas, “Every game is important but this being a rivalry game, we really wanted this win. Everyone did their part to help us be successful.”
In the final stanza, the Bearkats scored 14 straight points behind touchdown runs of 25 and 28 yards by Cantu pushing the Raymondville lead to double digits.
Cantu’s superb four touchdown and 156 yards rushing performance is sure to go down in Cotton Bowl lore.
“This was a big team win. It all starts up front. I have to give credit to our offensive line for dominating up front and to the receivers for maintaining their blocks. Casen Ruiz, Nick Gomez, Lando Cantu, John Rubalcaba, and Carlos Lopez did an outstanding job opening running lanes,” explained Jayson Cantu, who was recognized by numerous media outlets as player of the game.
The victory gives Raymondville a (2-1) mark heading into district play.
“We are extremely proud of these young men. They represented their families, our school and community in a positive way,” stated RISD Superintendent Stetson Roane, “This was a big win for Bearkat Nation!”