SNOOK — Led by sophomore fullback Garrett Hyvl, Snook had an explosive start to the season as the Class 2A Division II Bluejays rolled to a 43-18 victory over the Class 4A Division I Houston Kashmere Fighting Rams at Bluejay Stadium on Friday night.
Snook, coming off its first district championship, rushed for 252 yards with senior quarterback Garrett Lero and Hyvl leading the way. Sophomore Hyvl had four touchdowns in helping first-year head coach Dylan Conway win his debut.
“Garrett had a really great night,” Conway said. “He got a few snaps last year [as a freshman], but this year he’s really coming along and developing into an outstanding football player.”
A rocky first quarter plagued both teams. The Bluejays fumbled twice while the Fighting Rams struggled with the repercussions of a whiffed punt return, a thrown interception and a dropped fumble.
“It was just some first-game jitters,” Conway said. “We didn’t know what to expect. We eventually settled down and cleaned things up, but the nerves definitely got us at the beginning.”
Senior Jose Garcia led the Snook defense with two interceptions, but ultimately made his biggest mark on the game when he broke the scoring stalemate. Kashmere got off a 22-yard punt and Garcia returned it 79 yards for a touchdown. Lero added a two-point conversion run after an offside penalty against Kashmere.
A fumble by the Fighting Rams put Snook back on offense. The Bluejays had an effortless six-play drive capped by a 2-yard plunge by Hyvl. Kashmere had a nice drive before halftime, but it stalled in the red zone as Snook’s defense made the 14-0 lead stand.
After the half, the Bluejays’ offense got rolling. Hyvl’s short touchdown run capped a 70-yard drive spanning 14 plays. Lero added another two-point conversion on a 13-yard run after a penalty.
Kashmere quarterback Michael Arceaux fumbled the snap after one play. Hyvl picked up the fumble and sprinted 38 yards for his third touchdown. Instead of running the 2-point conversion, Lero sent a pass perfectly into the hands of junior tight end Sam Smitherman.
Kashmere lifted Arceaux for senior linebacker Delvion Fleeks. The change seemingly reinvigorated the team, as the Fighting Rams needed only three plays for Fleeks to connect with senior wide receiver Stilton McKelvey on a 37-yard touchdown.
“When [Fleeks] came in, we knew he wasn’t as good of a thrower as the starter,” Conway said. “We kind of hunkered down and got into some different fronts to play the run, and that left us exposed in the secondary. That put our corners in some binds, and that’s where [Kashmere’s] offensive success came from.”
Snook answered with a touchdown capped by a 10-yard touchdown run Hyvl to end the third quarter scoring. Junior Jason Pitts added the extra point.
The teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with Fleeks captaining a 42-yard drive before completing a pass in the end zone to senior wide receiver Jermaih Antoine. Snook answered quickly with junior running back Lance Lara adding a 21-yard touchdown.
Kashmere got the last score, using a seven-penalty drive to put the Fighting Rams close enough for Fleeks to again connect with Antoine for a touchdown, making it 43-18.
“At the end of the day, starting off 1-0 is always the goal,” Conway said. “We have some stuff to work on, but we’ll take the win no matter what. We’re going to be ready for next week.”
The Bluejays return to action at 7 p.m. next Friday at Thorndale for another nondistrict matchup.