Maybe it hasn’t looked as aesthetically pleasing as some fans (or coaches) would like, but for the Caprock Longhorns, the first three weeks of the season have been nothing but perfect.
And in at least one aspect, Caprock was perfect against Pampa on Thursday night at Dick Bivins Stadium.
The Longhorns stormed into their Homecoming in front of a packed home side of the stands having won each of their first two games at Bivins in different fashions. They repeated that but improved on the formula defensively, as they notched their first shutout of the season, blanking previously unbeaten Pampa 20-0 to move to 3-0 on the season.
Caprock has been stingy on defense all year, and the Longhorns have given up a total of 10 points through three games. That’s something which could carry them to a repeat of last season’s playoff run.
“If you’re going to be a good football team, you’re going to have to have good defense no matter what,” Caprock coach Dan Sherwood said. “Those guys have really stepped up and done some things. Nothing’s perfect, though. They there’s stuff they’ve got to work on. This team isn’t satisfied with it.”
Defense was at the forefront of the game particularly in the first half, as both teams struggled to put together extended drives. While Caprock did eventually get untracked and put the ball in the end zone along with two field goals, Pampa (2-1) was stifled in the second half, putting up a mere two first downs and 36 yards.
The biggest story in the game turned out to be five turnovers by Pampa. It was appropriate that the Longhorns capped the scoring with over two minutes left in the game when linebacker Aundre Reyes forced a fumble by Pampa quarterback Michael Campos in the end zone and Dominic Barba pounced on it for six points to put the exclamation point on the win.
“To get hands on the ball and make plays with your hands in the air is something we haven’t had in the past,” Sherwood said. “I’m glad to see that and we’ve got to capitalize better off of it.”
Caprock took advantage of a short field on a Pampa punt after the opening kickoff. Joel Gijon kicked a 34-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Pampa was actually a little more effective moving the ball for much of the first half, but the Harvesters gave away two fumbles and two interceptions. The biggest one came in the second quarter when Campos lost the ball and Caprock recovered at the Pampa 43-yard line.
That set up the only touchdown of the half, as on third-and-12, Lleyton Brown hit Kadrian Hernandez in the end zone for a 16-yard scoring pass to give Caprock a 10-0 lead with 5:24 left in the first half.
“Turnovers effecting the quarterback are huge things,” Pampa coach Cody Robinson said. “Defensively I think our kids showed a lot of character. The mistakes we made offensively were aggressive mistakes. We couldn’t get a rhythm but there’s a lot of positives.”
Caprock scored a defensive touchdown for the second consecutive week, serving notice that the Longhorns can create points of their own when their defense is on the field.
“We’ve been working hard for four years, and we’ve been together since our freshman year,” said Caprock defensive lineman Ivan Flores, who’s been a big factor up front. “We’ve built a lot of trust in each other and really just have fun. We wanted three (turnovers) at least. We have a lot of little mistakes we need to fix.”