By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The Logan Longhorns have secured their spot in the eight-man state football championship game Saturday against Melrose though it comes in the wake of a bittersweet victory.
The Longhorns punched their ticket to the state championship by beating the Gateway Christian Warriors 62-12 Saturday in Logan in the state semi-finals, but suffered the loss of senior starting defensive end Trey Daniels.
“We still don’t know what Trey’s condition is, though all of us are praying for him and are hoping for a positive diagnosis,” said Kene Terry, Longhorns head coach.
Daniels was injured late in the second quarter as the Warriors scored on a one-yard touchdown rush by Warriors fullback Domonic LaVolpa. Daniels was taken off the field by ambulance.
“We know that losing Trey is a big deal. He is our brother and our entire outlook has changed,” said Wyatt Strand, Longhorn’s quarterback. “We have changed our goal from winning a state championship to winning a state championship for Trey.”
Terry said the team responded well after Trey’s injury, continuing to play with class and composure. He said emotions can run high when a teammate gets hurt, but the Longhorns didn’t let that setback affect their focus or let it control their actions.
The first of the Warriors’ two scores came on a 34-yard pass from Justin Reynolds to Johnny Worral in the first quarter. It was the first score against the Longhorns since their Sept. 27th game against Cloudcroft. Cloudcroft was also the last team to score two touchdowns against the Longhorns defense.
Strand said the entire team will have to rededicate themselves to working harder and pushing themselves to get ready for their championship match against Melrose. He said that each team member must put into practice the same dedication that Trey Daniels showed each and every day, “to be the first in and the last out the door.”
When the Longhorns played the Melrose Buffaloes in the regular season, they won 48-38, but it was the second game in the season in which the Longhorns had to play a complete four quarters. The first was against Gateway Christian on Sept. 5. The Buffaloes, however, gave the Longhorns their narrowest margin of victory, losing by only 10 points. The rest of theLonghorn’s victories were by a 25 points or more.
“We have to play as hard as we can,” said Michael Estrada, Longhorn’s wide receiver. “This is the most fun I have every had being on this field with my brothers.”
Terry said the Longhorns know they will need to play the best game of their season this Saturday.
Against the Warriors:
• Strand had three rushing touchdowns, (45-yards, 3-yards and 35-yards), threw for six touchdowns to four different receivers and returned a 17-yard interception for a touchdown.
• Estrada had three touchdown receptions (13-yards, 42-yards and 33-yards).
• Brinton Roach and Colton Roach each had a touchdown reception of 44-yards and Wesley Gudgell had a 7-yard touchdown reception.
The eight-man state championship game time: 2 p.m., Saturday at Melrose.