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By Jana Rayburn
The Chester Yellowjacket varsity football team shut out Galveston O’Connell Preparatory School in their season opener last Friday, August 26.
Coach Justin Hilliard said “This was a game of firsts for our team. It was the first time since 2015 that the football team won the first game of the season. Also, five athletes scored their first varsity touchdowns.” Hilliard said this was a total team win, and the entire team saw playing time.
The boys had to endure an almost three-hour bus ride. “We had no information on O’Connell prior to the game,” said Hilliard. This unknown makes it difficult to prepare a game plan. The Bucanneers had size and athletic ability, but team play from the Jackets’ defense and rallying to the ball limited any running lanes for the Bucs.
Offensively, the Jackets executed the game plan well. There were a few things that needed correction, but overall, the Yellowjackets played an exceptional game on both sides of the ball.
Keighen Green scored on the first play of the game with a 35-yard run. Green had two carries on the night for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Kessler Romo rushed for 88 yards and had a touchdown on a punt return. Chase Bertrand threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Zack Redwine just before the clock ran out at halftime. Travis Zulpo started off the second half with a 53-yard touchdown run. Jaxson Gay also ran for 28 yards and scored a touchdown. Kai Hilliard intercepted a pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. This touchdown run made the score 47-0 and ended the game in the third quarter due to the mercy rule.Defensively, Chester gave up less than 50 yards on defense and only allowed three first downs. Levi Barnhart and Jesse Bittick had multiple tackles for loss. Blake Zulpo penetrated the offensive line nearly every play and forced a fumble.
The Jackets will play at home Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. They will host the Texas Christian Tigers, who won a state title in 2020 and went three rounds deep in the playoffs last season. Hilliard said, “The Tigers will be fast and physical. The challenge will be to contain their running back, but our Jackets will be ready for the challenge”. Come to Aubry Bradley Stadium on Friday night to see the Jackets take on this challenge.
Junior High Football
The junior high football team will get their season started on the road next week. The team will travel to Katy to battle the Faith West Eagles at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8.
Lady Jacket Varsity Volleyball
The Lady Jackets had another busy week of volleyball, playing eight games in just seven days. The Lady Jackets opened the week on Tuesday, August 23 with a three-game sweep over the Apple Spring Lady Eagles. The team traveled to Warren to compete in the Warren Varsity Tournament on Thursday. The team won all three pool games against Newton, Warren JV, and San Augustine, sending them to the Gold Bracket for Saturday games. The Lady Jackets hosted Lead Academy on Friday night, defeating them 3-0.
On Saturday, the Lady Jackets started the day with a 2-1 win over the Huntington Lady Red Devils. The team took on Tarkington in game two, and both games by close scores. The final game of the day for the Lady Jackets was against Warren. The girls played hard but were not able to pull out the win and dropped the match 1-2.
Lily Read led the Lady Jackets this week in kills. Read just returned to action last Thursday from an injury.
Abby Grimes and Kyli Handley both led in digs. Kinsley Barnes led the team in serving, with some timely aces and overall great serves. Emma Grimes continues to lead in assists.
Coach Patrick Sluga is constantly praising the Lady Jackets. Sluga said he loves the fact that this group of girls respect all of their opponents, but fear none of them. They take on bigger schools and never back down. Sluga said, “the old adage of ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog’ fits perfectly with this team.” If you have not had a chance to watch these girls in action, you need to make a point to go see them. They are going to accomplish great things this season and in the seasons to come.
The Lady Jackets will host Evadale on Friday, Sept. 2 at 4:30 p.m. On Tuesday, Sept. 6, the varsity will travel to Centerville to take on the Lady Tigers at around 6 p.m. (after the conclusion of the JV game, which starts at 5 p.m).
Lady Jacket JV Volleyball
The Chester JV volleyball team defeated Lead Academy last Friday, August 26 2-0. Faith Jerkins led in assists and serves. Lexi McDonnold led in digs, Mercedes Luther led in blocks, and Koree Hilliard led in kills.
The JV team will play against the Evadale Lady Rebels on Friday, September 2 around 5:30 p.m. The JV will travel to Groveton on Saturday, September 3 to compete in the Groveton JV Tournament. The JV team will be on the road again on Tuesday, September 6 as they face Centerville at 5:00 p.m.
Junior High Volleyball
The junior high volleyball team will travel to Spurger on Thursday, September 8 to face the Lady Pirates in a 4:30 p.m. game.
Yellowjacket Cross Country
The Yellowjacket cross-county teams will have their first meet on Wednesday, Sept. 7 in Broaddus. The high school races will be run in heats, due to the large number of schools participating.
The races will get started at 11:30 a.m., with junior high races starting at 3:15 p.m.
The Chester Yellowjackets blew out the Buccaneers from Galveston O’Connell last Friday, August 26 by a score of 47-0. PHOTO BY SANDY GILZOW