Legacy is loaded with running power.
So, it made sense that coach John Isola was concerned about Friday night’s home game against Northwest League foe Centennial, as he’s watched his offensive line get banged up over the first month of the season.
A concussion, a strained Achilles, broken ribs. Isola’s offensive front has suffered.
The running game hasn’t.
Led by Aubrey Washington’s 168 yards on 15 carries — including an 80-yard touchdown — the Longhorns generated 389 yards on the ground in their 35-14 win over Centennial.
Quarterback Roberto Valenzuela completed 4 of 14 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown, and ran for an additional 45 yards, 43 of them on a TD run that put an exclamation point on the game.
“They showed up, and they did great blocking,” Isola said. “It’s always a ‘next man up’ thing. I can’t say enough about our running backs. If you look at the way they’re running: Jerry Martin comes in and runs the ball hard. Isaiah’s (Whitehead) a beast, we know what he brings to the table. We’re striving for balance because you can’t just do one thing. When Roberto’s on, we’re a tough team. Berto made some great throws. Aubrey is just, he’s the consummate. He really is, he is so patient.”
Isiaha Conner had seven receptions for 94 yards for Centennial (0-3), and teammate Jordan Smith rushed 22 times for 69 yards. Quarterback Vlad Plotnikov completed 15 of 25 pass attempts for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
The teams looked great defensively in a scoreless first quarter. Then Washington broke for an 80-yard TD run early in the second quarter to put Legacy ahead, 6-0.
An interception by Jaime Cannon gave the ball back to the Longhorns, and this time it was Amorey Foster on the first play from scrimmage, going 63 yards to put Legacy at Centennial’s 20-yard line. Valenzuela found Antoine Clipper two plays later for a 17-yard TD, putting the Longhorns up 13-0.
Centennial answered when quarterback Vlad Plotnikov hooked up with Tyler Fujimoto on a 3-yard TD reception, cutting the lead to 13-8.
After the teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, Legacy stole the momentum.
Foster, and his brother Amere, came up with huge plays on both sides of the ball to help the Longhorns seal the win.
Ahead 21-14, the Longhorns were 11 plays deep into their drive and facing 4th-and-11. Isola knew who he wanted to have the ball, and Amorey Foster took it 16 yards to Centennial’s 1-yard line. Amere Foster finished it by plowing through Centennial’s line, as the Longhorns extended their lead to 28-14.
“It all starts with the line, of course.” said Amorey Foster, who finished with 202 all-purpose yards for the Longhorns. “We work hard together as a team. I come in, it’s a big impact play. That’s what we expect every time I come in. I’m excited, every single time. I’m ready.”
On Centennial’s next drive, the Bulldogs had 1st-and-goal at Legacy’s 3-yard line, and failed on four straight attempts, with Amere Foster in on the first three tackles, then applying pressure to Plotnikov on fourth down.
“We take it as disrespect when teams are on the goal line against us, we don’t want anybody to score,” Amere Foster said. “I love when people sleep on me because it makes me play a lot harder. I just go out and make as many plays as possible.”
Said Isola: “I said from the very beginning, Palaie (Gaoteote) over at Gorman High School — he is a hell of a football player. The second-best linebacker in the state is Amere Foster. We know how tough he is. Sure, I put him in on short yardage, because I know he won’t be denied. And Amorey, he will be one of the best players in the state next year, hands down.”