There’s something to be said for a team that keeps fighting, no matter the circumstances.
Eastside Memorial is due those kudos for its never-give-up style of play Saturday at Nelson Field, where it played without its best senior lineman and fielded more than half-a-dozen freshmen on the field most of the game in a 63-0 loss to San Antonio Young Men’s Leadership Academy.
"I’m proud of the kids for finishing and proud of their effort," Eastside Memorial coach Luis Becerra III said. "We have a lot of freshmen out there playing. When you have that and you’re playing in Class 4 football, the game moves a lot faster for them. It’s a situation where we grow. The kids’ spirits are up and we just try and get better every week."
The Panthers (0-4, 0-4 District 14-4A Division II) will focus on the positive plays they made instead of the overall outcome as they build their program.
Junior lineman Stephen Briseno picked up a fumble and returned it 29 yards deep into YMLA territory late in the second quarter, Anthony Berron had a 44-yard kick return, Sean Gallegos made several good runs from the quarterback spot and Adbel Hernandez-Leija recorded a few key stops on defense.
"When we execute well, good things happen, but with our youth, it’s just a different level of speed," Becerra said. "We had some kids make some good plays. When you have freshmen who come off the bench and make plays on defense, that’s huge."
YMLA (1-1, 1-1), which is playing its first season at the varsity level, has several good athletes and will be an interesting program to watch going forward.
Lions quarterback Alfredo Andrade completed seven of his eight passes for 138 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a score, while YMLA as a team rushed for 285 yards.
"They started two years ago playing just a freshman schedule, then went to junior varsity and are now at the varsity level, so they’ve developed the right way," Becerra said.
Andrade tossed scoring passes to Brandon Mancillas (10 yards) and Julio Boccanegra (8 yards). Jeremiah Shakir (2 yards) and Aaron Pinckney (9 yards) had rushing TDs as the Lions led 27-0 after the first quarter.
Andrade’s touchdown strikes to Rene Perez (19 yards) and Mancillas (14 yards) sandwiched Jammerick Brown’s 32-yard scoring jaunt in the second, with Shakir (2 yards) and Andrade (5 yards) adding second-half TD runs.
Gallegos had 17 yards rushing to pace the Panthers, who have one game remaining against Manor New Tech.
"We’re still trying to navigate our system, but we’ll get there," Becerra said.