If you're a Steer fan, Friday's game against Fort Stockton may have seemed liked deja vu, as Big Spring trounced the Panthers 49-0 for the second straight year in its opener. Except this time, the venue was Memorial Stadium and the Steers dazzled a home crowd.
“We expected to play well,” BSHS Head Coach Phillip Ritchey said. “When you have that many guys on offense and defense who have been there before, you expect them to play well.”
It didn't take long for Big Spring to put points on the board, as junior quarterback Tobyn Tannehill — who rushed for 64 yards and passed for 115 — ran one in from 12 yards to draw first blood.
“Tobyn played very well,” Ritchey said of his second-yard QB. “He ran the ball well and he passed the ball well. There are some things we have to work on. I was a little disappointed in the passing game. There was a few missed balls by the receivers, but we will address that.”
During the Panther's second possession, senior Shaihiem Menefield intercepted the ball and the Steers took over at the Fort Stockton 25 with 6:14 to go in the first quarter. Tannehill ran it in from 11 yards, with another extra point by Roberson to extend the lead to 14.
The Panthers barely moved the chains on their next drive, but Big Spring was relentless. Tannehill hit Roberson with a 22-yard pass for the third touchdown of the quarter with :03 on the clock.
Absolutely dominating on both sides of the ball, the new-look Steer backfield began getting in on the action, with junior Hunter Hill recording the next touchdown on an eight-yard run.
Hill was impressive in his varsity debut, as was Preston Alexander, a freshmen who appeared as if he was a three-year varsity starter, especially when he ran in a 41-yard touchdown to put the Steers up 34-0 before the point after.
A sack ended the next Fort Stockton possession and the ball reverted back to BSHS, but for the first time in the outing, the Steers didn't score and time expired in the half. It didn't matter. Even if Big Spring's offense wasn't on fire, the defense was, with Stockton's longest drive consisting of just six plays.
“I just can't say enough about the defensive effort,” said Ritchey. “That's why we were so good (Friday). If they can hold hold opponents like that all year, that's going to be good for us. I've said we're only going to be as good as our defense.”
Unfortunately for the Panthers, any halftime adjustments they made were futile. Alexander and Hill continued their onslaught, running over Stockton defenders as if they were a junior varsity squad. Alexander had another TD from eight yards out and Hill rushed for 30 yards for the final BSHS score before Phillip Ritchey began sending the backups into battle.
“Preston and Hunter will both be playing,” Ritchey explained. Jahari Vanover hurt his finger, which makes it hard for him to carry the ball. That's why you didn't see more of him last night. We expect big things from both Hunter and Preston. They both had a good night, Preston had a good night as a freshmen. He runs through tackles. Hopefully he keeps maturing and doesn't get too high on himself, but we definitely see big things from him. Hunter's more of a scatback, so we will use them in different situations.”
Despite using the No. 2 players for the majority of the second half, the Steer defense only allowed 10 total yards of offense.
Big Spring totaled 397 yards to the Panthers' 43. Roberson had 100 receiving yards, while Alexander was just shy of the 100-yard mark in his varsity debut.
Ritchey — having seen an identical start in 2012 — is hoping this season has a different ending.
“We've got the experience and talent, but that's only going to get you so far,” Ritchey added. “They have to form bonds and build friendships and come together in order to be a great team. I do see that in them. I see those bonds forming. They are unselfish. It's not about any one individual, it's about the team to them. Which is good, because if you don't have that unity, things can fall apart fast.”
Though the Steers were strong in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams — there were some errors. Big Spring racked up 70 penalty yards. Something Ritchey plans to evaluate further.
"It's hard for us to see the penalty calls during the game," he said. "When we watch the film, we will get a better look and see if there is anything we need to work on."
Next Friday, the Steers will be playing Midland Christian on the road. MC routed Monahans 47-7 on Friday, surprising a lot of area football fans and showing that their bout with the 2011 TAPPS 4A champs may be a challenging one.
“I encourage the community to go out there and support our team,” Ritchey said. “It's not too far away and it should be an exciting game.”
Last year Big Spring edged the Mustangs 17-12.
Hunter Hill: 3-40 rushing.
Fabian Garcia: 12-58 rushing.
Garrett Wigington: 2-11 rushing
Tobyn Tannehill: 6-65 rushing, 6-115 passing.
Preston Alexander: 7-95 rushing.
Devin Roberson: 1-15 rushing, 3-97 receiving.
Matt Yanez: 1-10 receiving.
Tate Kennedy: 1-9 receiving, 3-10 rushing.