One year ago, the heavily favored Victoria West Warriors walked away from Memorial Stadium upset after making many mental errors against their newly-minted crosstown rival.
Now, that game is just a distant memory to West senior quarterback Gamarquis Girdy.
Girdy, who was named MVP of the game by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, led the Warriors in a dismantling against the Victoria East Titans, rushing for five touchdowns and 185 yards on 18 carries as the Warriors won 42-14 - the most lopsided win for either school in the rivalry’s young history.
“It’s all about the offensive line,” Girdy said. “Couldn’t have done this without them.”
For just the second time ever, the Warriors beat the Titans to take home the Boot Trophy. And for West’s head coach, it was high time that it happened.
“We’ve been on the short end of the stick for these [rivalry] games and it was definitely due,” Warriors head coach Leonard McAngus said.
The rivalry, founded in 2010 after Victoria ISD split into two high schools, has a lot of significance to the Golden Cresent region of Texas. Typically played in a sold out Memorial Stadium, the game (also known as The Battle For The Sword) is a showcase for some of the Crossroads’ best talent.
In all but one year, the winner of the contest has gone on to compete in the playoffs, while every game has had a high-flying offensive showing, with an average of 70 points per game. And for all the points scored in the rivalry, the affair has been largely in favor of Victoria East, including last year’s game - the game Girdy wanted to put behind him.
The then-junior missed two opportunities to win the game for West, but Girdy threw two interceptions to end those drives. In addition to the pick-six he threw to East defender Trey Martinez earlier in the game, and a fumble that cost the Warriors another earlier chance to score, Girdy was ready to get his previous mistakes behind him.
And on Friday night, he did just that.
After waiting an extra hour and a half to kick off due to inclement weather, the Victoria West Warriors stole the ball from the Titans on a turnover and literally ran away with the game with a commanding ground game from their offense. After forcing the fumble on East’s first drive, West responded with a drive capped by Girdy’s first running touchdown of the day - a 17-yard scramble.
On East’s next possession, the Titans were driven to their own one yard line, facing a fourth and long. After some confusion on the field (in what appeared to be a failed attempt to draw a West penalty), the ball was snapped and a fade pass fell incomplete, giving the ball to Girdy and the Warriors on a turnover on downs. Girdy promptly picked up the ball and barreled his way into the end zone to give West a 14-0 lead.
East countered with a 87-yard drive, which included a successful fourth down conversion and a handful of penalties from West’s defense. East running back Julius Whitby would then score on an acrobatic 30-yard touchdown run for East. Whitby was hit near the line of scrimmage, but bounced off a lineman. As the Warriors assumed he was tackled, they left him alone and wondered why the refs didn’t blow the whistle. By the time West figured out what was happening, Whitby took the ball to the house and cut West’s lead to seven.
It would be just about the last positive thing East would get for a long while, as the Warriors would force several turnovers and dropkick punts for the Titans’ next possessions. West converted several of those stops into points, putting together 28 unanswered points against the East defense.
Girdy would rush for scores of six yards, three yards and 21 yards, and running back ZeVaughn Shelton blasted up the middle for a 56 yard touchdown as West would surge to a 42-7 lead.
East would eventually get one bit of relief in garbage time, as Esteban Martinez would return a West fumble for a 63-yard touchdown with 1:48 remaining in the game, but it wouldn’t be enough to mount a comeback, as West took the game 42-14.