Clicking in all phases, Cinco Ranch dominates Tompkins to go to 3-1
KATY—Cinco Ranch authored a signature win Friday evening. It certainly produced one of the more eye-opening results of the high school football season so far.
The Cougars had everything clicking against state-ranked Tompkins at Rhodes Stadium.
The offense punted just twice, and at one point scored touchdowns on five consecutive drives against a defense that held Katy to 14 points the week before. The defense delivered a shutout in the second half as Tompkins closed the game with five punts on five drives. A fake punt led to a 17-yard Riete Nesiama run, first down and eventual touchdown in the second quarter of a 14-14 game.
And when the clock read zeroes, the scoreboard read Cinco Ranch 42, Tompkins 14, as the Cougars start District 19-6A play 2-0 (3-1 overall) and the Falcons dropped their second straight game and fell to 0-2 in district, 2-2 overall.
\u201c.@cincofb is PUMPED. Signature win. #txhsfb @KatyISDAthletic @ChrisDudley40\u201d— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1663382578
“Tonight, we set that bar high,” said senior linebacker Braden Williams, who had a couple of sacks and ignited a vigilant defensive performance. “We need to keep it up all the way. We need to blow it out of the water. We’re here to stay and we’re here to make a name for ourselves.”
The Cinco Ranch offense was, once again, more than worth the price of admission.
The usual suspects of senior quarterback Gavin Rutherford (22 of 31 passing, 286 yards, three touchdowns) and senior receivers Fischer Reed (10 catches, 102 yards, TD), Seth Salverino (five catches, 76 yards, TD) and Noah Abboud (four catches, 64 yards, TD) were dynamic.
\u201c.@cincofb 2023 QB @GavinRutherfo12 discusses tonight\u2019s 42-14 win over Tompkins. Rutherford completed 22 of 31 passes for 286 yards and three TDs to no INTS. He has not thrown an interception this season. #txhsfb @KatyISDAthletic @ChrisDudley40 @KPRC2RandyMc\u201d— VYPE Houston (@VYPE Houston) 1663384457
“It’s a team effort,” said Rutherford, who has not thrown an interception in 118 pass attempts this season. “Nobody on this team can do it by themselves. It starts with the O-line. They played their butts off. Every time they’d come to the sideline asking, ‘How’s the protection? How’s the protection?’ I’m telling them, hey, it’s awesome. What else can I ask for?”
But it was a run game that has emerged as a consistent, potent threat this season that especially keyed the Cougars, sparked by senior Sam McKnight’s 99 carries and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
\u201c.@SamMcknight26 ties this one once again. Bruising 10-yard run. 14-14, 5:25, 2Q. #txhsfb @cincofb @ChrisDudley40\u201d— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1663375803
“This whole year, we’ve really had a good balance running and throwing the ball,” coach Chris Dudley said. “When you’re able to do that, you can keep defenses off balance. They can’t just gang up on you in the passing game. Our offensive line has really turned the corner, and that opens things up for our true strengths in our quarterback and receivers. It’s really looking good so far.”
McKnight, a former linebacker, averaged 4.7 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns in 12 games last year. This season, he is averaging 7.5 yards per carry and has six touchdowns already.
Dudley said his lead back is stronger and smarter, better at anticipating the initial defender coming and making him miss and showing improved balance and not going down on the first hit.
“We were looking at their defense, saw a few holes, and we powered it. My O-line is amazing and I love those guys,” said McKnight, who was effusive in his praise of senior left tackle Harrison Moore, senior left guard Redlin Krueger, senior right guard Qazi Jan, junior right tackle Alan Ramirez and sophomore center Erfan Izadi. “We knew our run game would be solid today.”
As prolific as the Cougars were offensively, they were just as relentless defensively.
Tompkins scored on its first two drives via touchdowns from Caleb Komalafe and Caleb Blocker but never found the end zone again.
Cinco Ranch gave up 251 total yards, a far cry from the previous two games when it surrendered 500 and 430 yards, respectively, to Klein Oak and Katy Taylor.
“We made those necessary adjustments,” Dudley said. “Eyes. Read steps. Formation recognition. All the pre-snap stuff that had hurt us the last two weeks, either not getting lined up on time or lined up correctly. Our kids locked into those. We challenged them. We can’t win 45-42 every week. We can’t live that way. I liked that they took that challenge to heart.”
It didn’t help the Falcons that their No. 1 playmaker, junior Wyatt Young, who plays quarterback, running back and receiver, went out on the second play of the game due to injury and never returned.
“We knew they’d want to run the ball more with him gone,” Williams said. “That’s their main target. What else are they going to do? They’re going to want to get the ball on the ground, get some yards. We stopped that.”
\u201cHuge sack by @cincofb senior LB @_BradenWilliams for a loss of five yards. #txhsfb @ChrisDudley40\u201d— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1663376263
It was a confident Cougars bunch that smelled the proverbial blood in the proverbial water and took advantage.
The last time Cinco Ranch started 3-1 was 2017. The last time it started 2-0 in district play was 2018. It’s been a while since the Cougars have played the way they’re playing, let alone felt the way they’re feeling.
“It’s a new year. A new us,” Rutherford said. “I love last year’s team but this year’s team I’m so grateful for. I’m just along for the ride right now.”