Less than a minute into the second half of Denton’s spring game at Bronco Field, wide receiver Key’andre Hearvey was tagged with an offensive pass interference penalty and fell to his knees in disbelief.
With the starters divided between the Purple and Gold teams and despite the informal nature of Thursday’s scrimmage, the emotions mirrored that of a regular-season game.
“It’s my competitive spirit,” Hearvey said. “I’m competitive. So, when it comes to something like that, it gets me. I feel like I didn’t push off, but the ref did and I just got a little heated about that. We haven’t been at it in a long time. It feels good to be back with the team.”
After the Purple team took a 13-0 lead in the first half, the Gold team fought back with two touchdowns to claim a 14-13 victory.
“It’s a fun matchup, but it’s more of a celebration for our kids,” Denton coach Kevin Atkinson said. “I don’t think there’s a spring practice around that has as much action as we have with the drill team and band being here, our fan support and we got to introduce our middle school kids. I was really hopeful it would be a good game, and I’m glad it was. We got to see some things from people we haven’t seen.”
The game saw its share of highlight plays, with key defensive efforts from offensive threats such as running back Xavier Scott, who posted a sack, and Hearvey, who made an interception. This fall, Atkinson said, the team will be pulling out all the stops.
“This is the year,” Atkinson said. “We’re going to throw in everything we can. We’re not going to leave any stone unturned. Xavier is going to line up at defensive end some. We’re going to do everything to put our best athletes in the best position to win.”
The Purple team took a 6-0 lead on the first drive of the game with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Christian Rodriguez to Pearson Schroll, who overcame a defensive pass interference call to make the catch off the back of the defender.
Emerson Espinoza’s 25-yard catch for a touchdown from quarterback Colton Atkinson put Purple up 13-0. Espinoza secured the ball by making a quick move before the defender could react.
“I thought we caught the ball really well,” Atkinson said. “I told Emerson Espinoza that he was going to be an impact player, and he proved that tonight with a dynamic catch in the end zone. Of course, Key’andre played really well.”
With the Broncos losing several seniors at wide receiver and Hearvey the lone returner, he says spring practice has been very valuable for the receiving corps.
“Spring has really helped me,” Hearvey said. “I think the backups should have got more reps because they’ve worked hard this spring as well. It’s a good experience for them. Having a close game, it usually pays off in the fall, and the young receivers are coming along well.”
After Hearvey drew the penalty early in the second half, he came up with catches of 14 and 21 yards to set up a 1-yard rushing touchdown to bring Gold to within 13-7.
The Gold team found itself with the ball late and was able to take the lead on a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:13 left.
With the Purple team having one last chance on offense, Gold’s Adam Bershell made a game-ending sack.
The Broncos now head into their summer workout program, where Atkinson hopes his team is ready to keep making strides.
“The bamboo is starting to break the ground, so I told them it’s up to us how much it grows now,” Atkinson said. “That’s going to be how we finish the school year academically and how we attack the summer. Those six weeks are going to be vital for us.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.