And the beat goes on …
Outmatched Cobre was forced to watch Vaiza, Socorro’s X-factor, manufacture his own highlight reel all night long at Warriors Stadium. In a TiVo-like manner, 3A’s third-ranked Socorro used, more or less, the same toss sweep to sweeping success, and Vaiza authored a monster performance, criss-crossing the field for 220 yards and three touchdowns on six carries. His longest, an 84-yard TD scamper, came 21 seconds into the game. On it, Vaiza weaved in and out of traffic with before turning on the jets. Bye-bye, Indians, who fell 38-6; hello 7-0 and one step closer to perfection for the Warriors.
Head coach Louie Laborin wasn’t particularly pleased with how his team eased up after establishing a 28-point first-quarter cushion, but he heaped the praise on Vaiza.
“Once he gets the corners, there’s not a lot of people who are going to catch Ray,” he said. “Tonight was Ray’s night. Up front, they really carved out the defense for him.”
Like a pumpkin on a crisp October night. It rained for nearly every minute in the first half, before conditions finally cleared.
Not chancing it — and with Vaiza in gear — the Warriors had no use for the pass, keeping with its bread-and-butter running packages. They didn’t complete a pass all night.
“It was power football, as you would expect in this kind of weather,” Laborin said.
And early on for the Warriors, it was like a hot knife through the buttery Cobre defense.
In the first quarter, Socorro’s canon went off at rapid-fire pace. The Warriors took one play to put seven on the board off Vaiza’s run. Then, seeing something it could exploit in the Indians’ special team alignment, Socorro opted for a surprise onside kick.
Kicker Zach Binger dribbled the ball 10 yards down the middle, and Socorro recovered.
“He can’t kick them at practice,” Laborin said, pleasantly surprised by the outcome. “Every practice, he kicks them only five yards, but for some reason, he gets into a game, and they’re right on the money every time.”
Soon after, Vaiza cashed the check that Binger wrote.
One play later, Vaiza dipped and dodged his way into the end zone from 50 yards out, and quicker than Cobre could blink, it was 14-0 Warriors 39 seconds into the game. Vaiza should have finished with four touchdowns on seven carries, but he had a 74-yard TD dash negated by a Socorro penalty.
Trust that Vaiza wasn’t tracking the miles, though.
“I really don’t care about my stats or anything,” he said after Friday’s game. “I care about the team. I worry about the team before I worry about myself. They’re my brothers.”
Cobre had few opportunites to score, but when it was in the Warriors’ territory, it stifled drives with a mix of turnovers and penalties.
Indians’ QB Nick Salas was just 2-of-17 for 32 yards and two interceptions. One of those was a jump ball in the end zone.
Later, Cobre had a defensive TD — off a botched punt snap — called back because of a clipping call. In the end, Socorro’s defense conceded a garbage-time touchdown with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter.
At one point, the Warriors lead by more than 35 points, putting into effect the running clock.
But Vaiza said, while the score might have indicated it, Socorro didn’t run away with the game; it got up early and put it in cruise control when it shouldn’t have.
“We kinda fell apart,” he said. “We should have finished it.”
Laborin was equally miffed about the amount of penalties yards the Warriors rolled up in the second half. He said if that disturbing trends continues, Socorro won’t be undefeated for long now that its heading into the toughest district portion of its schedule.
“If we don’t do things right, somebody’s going to catch us,” he said.
Just not Cobre, or Vaiza, on Friday night.