Confident Hornets hope for long run as they kick off playoffs today

By: 
Ron Howell
Sports Editor

Blackwell made it two rounds into the Class 1A, D-II playoffs a year ago after it ended the regular season with a 10-0 record. This year, the Hornets enter the playoffs 10-0 again, and they plan a much longer postseason run this time around.
First they have to beat Sierra Blanca, the No. 2 seed out of District 5-1A, D-II with a 3-1 record. The Vaqueros will face Blackwell at about 8 p.m. today in Garden City. The game may start a bit later since Loraine will be taking on Grandfalls-Royalty at the same place at 6:30 p.m. today.
Blackwell celebrated its second straight district title and earned the No. 1 seed out of District 6-1A, D-II last week with a 48-2 win over Loraine. It was the Hornets’ first game in two weeks after a forfeit victory over Trent on Nov. 2.
But all of the other wins have come on the field and most have been like the one over Loraine: not close and over early with the 45-point mercy rule going in effect.
And Blackwell has done it in part because it doesn't have a single dominant player that another team can key on.
No fancy stats are being compiled this season by the No. 3-ranked Hornets. They just win, baby.
“It’s tough to stop us because anyone can score,” senior linebacker-running back Joe Sanchez said. “Everyone on the team is like a threat.”
And if they can knock off Sierra Blanca (6-2) tonight, there will likely be a large cast of heroes who play a part in the victory.
Blackwell followed that script against Loraine, as four different players found the end zone. Quarterbacks Michael Lowry and Brandon Brinkman each threw a touchdown pass, with Lowry connecting on a 25-yard strike to Peyton Hinckley and Brinkman finding Cameron Coldiron for a 29-yard score.
Also, Brinkman ran for three TDs and Sanchez two. The defense did not score, but had four interceptions — two by Junior Guia and one each by Sanchez and Coldiron. Coldiron also had a fumble recovery as well as a team-high eight tackles in last week’s game.
Guia also had three two-point kicks following Blackwell touchdowns, his last one closing the game out due to the six-man 45-point mercy rule with 7:38 left in the third quarter.
Guia said that Blackwell’s success was something he saw coming, back when he was part of the 2016 team that went 6-4 that season but missed the postseason due to youth and injuries.
“We were young, but we got a lot of experience that year that helped us out a lot,” he said.
Last year Blackwell won the District 7-1A, D-II title and defeated Guthrie in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Balmorhea, which made it all the way to the state finals before losing to Strawn in the title game. The Bears, however, won’t be in Blackwell’s way this time since they’ve moved up to Class 1A, Division I.
Hinckley thinks his team is the class of this year's D-II field.
““We’re hoping to go to state,” he said. “I think that we’ve got a chance to do it because we’re better than all the teams we’ll play.”
Sanchez, Hinckley and Guia — all three are seniors — said this year they have taken it one game at a time when approaching their next opponent. And they even claimed they haven’t thought about their long regular-season winning streak — 20 straight — over the past two seasons.
They just expect to win when they go on the field. And now that they're in the playoffs, winning matters more than ever.
Tonight's winner will play either Throckmorton or Jayton in the second round. Those teams will meet at 7:30 p.m. today in Trent for their bi-district playoff.

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